Monday, March 31, 2014

Names Again

This morning we sat watching the news and having breakfast – all comfy in our recliners – when a news anchor introduced an affiliate in Washington State where that big mudslide happened. “And now we go to Dominic for a report . . .” And just before the man began to speak I thought, “Hmm, an Italian name.” But the guy opened his mouth and spoke with a British accent. Not allowed! A name and an accent should meet my expectations. I wanted him to be saying "Ciao," not "Good day." But I had to let it pass because the guy couldn’t hear my protests what with my mouth full of granola and all. And that got my overactive brain thinking about no, not Dominic the Donkey, but names.

I like my name. The whole long thing is Susan Carol Bagger Sundwall. My nickname is Sue (who was this Nick guy, anyway?). Occasionally someone will call me Suzie or Suzer and my dad called me Susie Q on quite a number of occasions.

Naming characters in fiction is interesting, and I always wonder how other writers do it. Googling the most popular baby names in any given year is one way. Giving a character a name that sort of defines the way they look or act is another. Burt Large is a character on one of my favorite British series, Doc Martin, and the man who plays him, Ian McNiece, is indeed large. I once named a pediatrician Dr. Scary because I wanted the little boy in the story to relate to him. I know, I know, such faulty thinking, and my tale did not meet with commercial success. Some lessons are  hard.

Parents often name their children after other family members. Our #2 son was given the name Blaine – my mother’s maiden name. Like, from when she was a maiden; it was Bagger after that. Blaine’s first daughter was then named after my mother, Elaine, only with an ‘a’ on the end. We think that’s very cool. Other parents tip out a box of alphabet blocks onto the floor, shut their eyes, rearrange seven or eight of them, and voila! Claminda has a name like no other kid on the planet.

Place names are also fun to invent. Imagine the board room where some hyper Type A ad man shook his fist at his co-workers and exclaimed “We Are Toys, people! Embrace it! That name will be recognized by kids the world over!” And then some dweeby new hire named Russel piped up and said, “So – like – Toys ‘R Us?” It’s a legend in the industry that I just made up. But it’s my model for designing all the place names in my books. And such fun!

When God gave Adam the job – er – privilege of naming things He really started something. It makes me want to get out my alphabet blocks and just go crazy, but that could take all day, so I’ll spare you.

What or how have you named something or someone? Let us know.  

Image: digitalart                                                  Free Digital Photos


  1. I went to school with Bucktooth. You guessed it. Native American.
    How about Eddie O'Brien? Irish? Nope. Native American as well. He never did tell me how he got to be an O'Brien.
    Marion (named after a grandmother)

    1. Marion, Love it! LOL And don't even get me started with my lat m-in-l and her ideas on names. Yeesh!

    2. Eddie's story would be interesting for sure! Thanks for chiming in, Marion.

  2. This is an interesting topic! I too, enjoy learning where writers get their names for stories, parents get children's names, etc. For the current WIP, my co author and I use names from historical records with a dash of family and other names we like. :)

    1. Historical names are indeed interesting, Karen. Best of luck on the WIP. Thanks for commenting!

  3. When we were choosing baby names, the acid test for my husband was this: he'd slip into a bass that was just a bit deeper than normal, and he'd pretend he was the announcer at graduation, calling the name over an imaginary podium. If it sounded--well, right, then he knew. :D