What’s in a name?

Three weeks in and you’d think I have a name for my main character.

Well I don’t.

I have a make-shift name:  Lily, which isn’t at all right for her. Two years ago when I first thought about writing this story it seemed right. But she’s definitely not a Lily. She’s a…well, I’m not sure. But as I write more and more I starting to get a glimmer.

I’ve had trouble with names in my past novels as well. Especially the second. When writing Mounting Desire, a spoof on romance novels, I went through several names. Even Emily. And believe me, my favorite nymphomaniac is no Emily. In fact, she was even originally a he. But that’s another story.

Only in my first novel, How to Cook a Tart, did the name come quickly. It arrived in a flash and remained: Jasmine. She was a Jasmine at the beginning and a Jasmine she stayed. It was strong, evocative and memorable. Like she was.

The third, Believe Me, took some time but when it dawned on me it all made sense: Lucy. One, it’s my mother’s, two, it eluded to ‘Lucy in the sky with diamonds,’ and three, the famous australopithecus fossil was named Lucy. All perfect for a character who was a mother and first rate scientist specializing in astronomy.

So for this novel, I’m still searching. Still trying on names for size.

I looked on the internet for popular names given in the 1920’s, the time of her birth. And there are some classic ones: Doris, Mildred, Shirley, Marjorie. All a bit strange sounding to us in 2011 and perhaps not that attractive to our ears but all in the top 20 in the 1920’s.

Nothing has really charmed me yet. Hoping to come up with something as dazzling as Scarlett O’Hara or Holden Caulfield or who could forget Atticus Finch. Now there are some names.

Maybe next week.

Anyway, got to my word count just in time to clean the kitchen before school pick up.

How are you doing? Anyone else with a name problem?



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6 responses to “What’s in a name?

  1. I’m heading into the home stretch, I think. I’ve no idea of my work count, but I think it’s growing . . .

    i have a character named Gallagher Petticoe. He is not a nice man, and no wonder, but I’m not sure his name fits anymore. Plus, having to type ‘Petticoe” eighty-eleven times is giving me fits.

    Back to the baby name books!

  2. ninakillham

    Damn, I think it’s a fabulous name. Certainly memorable. Can’t wait to meet him. Keep running, er, I mean writing. It’s great that you can see the finish line.

  3. Nanna

    Hi Nina,
    Sounds like you’re on a roll! Just a thought – I wonder whether you could view some movies set in Singapore in the 1920s. Might help you set the scene. There’s a Joan Crawford character called Priscilla (how’s that for a name?) in a movie called “Across to Singapore” – quite a few pictures on the site, showing clothes, etc. . Doubt if you could view the movie, though.
    Also another site telling of the Shaw Bros making movies in the 1920s in Singapore – I love their names – Runme and Run Run Shaw – has some photos & details.
    I hope the school production went well!

  4. ninakillham

    Oo, all very good ideas. Thanks. It is a great way to add some atmosphere.

  5. mike c

    I’m with ya on Atticus Finch! I’ve always liked that name. Even as a kid i thought it was cool in an old fashion kind of way. Maybe because I was a fan of Gregory Peck in “To kill a mockingbird”. If you like Atticus, how about Artemis? Not sure what time period you are interested in but it oddly enough is used for boys or girls. She was from greek mythology. The goddess of the moon, of the hunt and of chastity. How’s the word count going?

  6. ninakillham

    Hey Mike. Ooo, I like Artemis. Didn’t know it was also used for boys. Word count good, thanks. Unfortunately, I don’t think the words are in the right order. Trying to work on that!

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