Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What's In A Name?

I started off in life as Susan Joyce. Of course, a huge number of other girls in my generation also had mothers, who were in love with the name. There were at least 3 other kids in my class with the same name. The teacher resorted to calling us by our first name and last initial. Not exactly a way to stand out from the crowd.

My family promptly designated "Susie" as my nickname. While "Susie" is cute and appropriate for a 4-year-old darling, I felt a bit silly as a young adult.

Susannah Joyce was used only by my mother. When I heard that name, I knew I was in deep trouble. This is when I wrote my Last Will and Testament.

At some point, I began using "Sue." Perhaps it was the Sue Barton book series about a nurse, which triggered this choice. The shortened version of my name impressed me as sophisticated and grown up.

Of course, I've suffered through some horrific renderings of my name, Susie-Q being the most common. then there was (and please don't tell a soul about this one) Suz-a-la. Shudder. One recent nickname, which I put the brakes on immediately, was Suzinator. For some unknown reason, this reminded me of a refrigerator. Ick. Please do not torment me with these ugly derivatives of my name.

I'm now back to Susan, and using the middle initial "J." You wouldn't think it, but there are other Susan Reinhardt's out there. Fancy that. Except for an occasional, "Suze," used primarily by my dear uncle and my best friend, I'm back to using the name I was given as a newborn.

Naming your characters is as important as naming your children. Some people want unusual monikers, while others like classical or Biblical names. An author friend used names directly related to her characters' personalities.

So before you go with Dick and Jane, check out some baby name sites. If you're writing a historical novel, see what names were popular during that timeframe. Your readers and characters will thank you.


Annie said...

My name is Ann. No i, no e, just Ann. Growing up the only "Anns" I met were OLD (I was a child then!). I hated my name. Hated it.

School brought nick names such as AnnieBananie, Annie Oakley, and so forth. Uggh.

It wasn't until I turned 32 that I decided to make a change, thus I became AnnMarie.

Interestingly enough, every single AnnMarie I've met tells the same story. Amazing huh?

Sarah said...

Hi Susan-

You're so right about the importance of giving your character the right name. I rarely stick with the first name I pick when writing a story and have even changed a name half-way through! What a pain it is to have to go back and make sure you've replaced every "Hannah" with "Kelly."

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi AnnMarie -

Now that I know your preference, I'll use it. :) Actually, I think AnnMarie is a beautiful name.

Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sarah -

The family and several other characters in my novel went through a name change. A good way to accomplish catching all those changes is to use the Search/Replace command in Word. It's a lot easier than going through your manuscript page by page.

Thanks for stopping in again. I visited your blog the other day.

Susan :)