Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Questionable Names


One day when my daughter was seven years old, she told me what she wanted to name her daughter someday. Are you ready for it?

Cinder Block

She said she heard her brother say that name, and thought it was the prettiest sounding name she had ever heard! I didn't have the heart to replace her mental image of the name with this:

Plus, she said I could call her "Cindy" for short. ;)

Now I can't say I want my future granddaughter's name to be Cinder Block, but I LOVE when characters have interesting names. I'm not talking super long, hard-to-pronounce, hard to sound out names. But clever names. Names you wouldn't really expect to be a name, yet totally fit the character.  Like Hiccup on How to Train Your Dragon. Or Buttercup from the Princess Bride. (Or other first names ending in cup. ;)) Or River from Firefly. Or Forrest from Forrest Gump. Or Napoleon Dynamite. Or Primrose from The Hunger Games. Or, even though it's just a nickname, Bones. Or Squints.

I've gotta say, I'm kind of in love with those names that aren't really a name, but ARE a real word. What about you? Take them or leave them?

35 comments:

Mara Rae said...

You know I like unusual names - hence, Friday. However, my brother (who is Buddhist) just named his daughter the WORST. NAME. EVER. Yes, worse than Cinder Block (I actually kind of like Cinder!). I can't type it here in case my brother should Google the name (because it's so bizarre this would be the first thing that came up) but I'll tell you if you email me ;)

Cristina said...

oh I like Cinder.... just not Cinder Block, LOL....

and Hiccup is one of my most favorite characters EVER... his name is awesome.. and he is the cutest thing ever!!!

JeffO said...

Did your son watch Teen Titans, by any chance? Thank you, that made me laugh, that was great.

Honestly, I love good nicknames, but sometimes I think writers try too hard, and everyone has to have something clever and different. It could just be that I grew up when everyone was named Mike and Mary. I've got to get with the times.

Tonja said...

If I could turn back time, I would have given my daughter a hippy name like Summer or Rain or Sunshine.

Shell Flower said...

I bet there is a kid out there named Cinder Block. That totally cracked me up. I met a boy named Random once. How random.

I find in my writing that I tend to give my characters nicknames. My current MC in my WIP was named Sapphire by her parents, but hates it so she goes by Sarah.

Oh, and I love the name Primrose, but Katniss? That one has always bugged me. Sounds too much like cat piss. Sorry, but it does. And Peeta? Makes me think of either pita with falafel or PETA as in the animal activists. Gale is a great name, though.

Kyra Lennon said...

LOL Cinder Block!

When I was a kid, I thought Latrine was a pretty name until I found out what it meant!

Valerie Hartman said...

Loved the nicknames in Holes by Louis Sachar and Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl. Caveman, Armpit, Zero, Mr. Sir--who doesn't love (the name) Mr. Sir? Stargirl stole the show in my eyes, beautiful story of an independent thinker who can pick her own name and claim it everyday.

I am loving your simple posts that encourage me to think about something in a new light. You really bring a fresh take on your topics. Thanks!

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I like unique names but not to the point where I can't figure out how the heck to say them. And nicknames are great to show closeness of relationship or endearment.

Ruth Josse said...

Love special names that fit the character perfectly. But yes, there is a balance. Nothing too weird, long or annoying everytime you have to say it in your head.

Hermione, the name, put me off for the first couple books. Don't throw tomatoes!

Jenilyn Tolley said...

My daughter suggested the name Uranus for one of her cousins. Yes, with the long "a" and everything. She'd been studying the planets in first grade and thought it was such a pretty name! I love kids and their ideas of good names. :)

Jessie Humphries said...

Haha, Cinder Block! I love it. Yes, I always try to think of cute nicknames, and...I always fail. But you got me thinking about it again. I totally want to do this!

Patti said...

I'm with you on the original names but not on the ones that you have no idea how to pronounce them.

Cinder is kind of cute without the block.

It would make a good character name.

Jaime Morrow said...

Haha! Cinder Block? Hilarious :D

I like unique names too, but they have to be easy to remember (this is my biggest beef with a lot of fantasy). One name that springs to mind is Cricket Bell from Lola and the Boy Next Door. Such a weird name for a dude, but I feel like it suited him really well. I'm sure there are others I can come up with, but I'm drawing a blank at the moment.

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

Oh yes... I love quirky names. One of my characters was called Jeremiah Beanplot! He was an elderly gardener!

Taffy said...

This is a quesiton my friend's son asked: Mom, why didn't you name Max Lightbulb instead??
Sometimes quirky names takes me out of the story.

S. L. Hennessy said...

Hiccup is my favorite. What an AWESOME name for a nerdy,underdog dragon slayer (or rider haha). Unusual names can be a lot of fun.

Carrie-Anne said...

I have a Raspberry Ann (pronounced with a long A, since she's British), and had an Apricot (pronounced AP-ir-cot, not AYP-ir-cot). I also have some characters with hippie nature-type names, like Sage, Skye, Saffron, and Lotus, and Pilgrim/Puritan Virtue names, like Honesty, Reliance, and Amnesty.

Kristine said...

What a cutie!

Jaycee DeLorenzo said...

I posted on twitter a bit ago...we got a student today:

La-a.

Pronouced: Ladasha.

I guess the - is pronounced dash.

:(

Annalisa Crawford said...

Cinder Block! lol

I have a character in an unfinished novel called Serenity, because the title Grace and Serenity just popped into my head. The mother Grace calls her daughter Ren (short for Serenity), the violent father calls the child Sarah.

(And that was before the Firefly/Serenity series/film - I didn't copy!)

Donna K. Weaver said...

I love the names Elana Johnson comes up with. Not sure about Katniss, though. ;)

Gwen said...

I froze when a friend told me she wanted to name a daughter Chlamydia. Sure, it sounds pretty, but...

I like unusual names, I collect them on a little sheet of paper in my purse. There Geri, Marinelle, Cydelle, Apollonia, Salvatore. It might come from the fact that my real name is the most common one in existence, I swear.

Jennifer Lee Young said...

That's too funny! My daughter gives all her toy names the name of what the toy is. For example her teddy Bear is called Beary. Her dog animals are called pups and so on.

Nicole said...

Good examples! Quirky names can be fun in stories.

Krista McLaughlin said...

Those are some fun names! I wanted to have a daughter when I was little and name her Quincy, though my mom told me that Quincy is a boy's name. I don't think so.

My MC is named Edom, which is sorta like Adam, but I love the song of it. :)

Joshua said...

I think we're all forgetting a certain Professor Quirinus Quirrell.

Leigh Covington said...

LOL! That is so cute! YES... I absolutely LOVE a fun and interesting name. Not the once I can't figure out, but the cool ones. I wish I was better at coming up with them though. Maybe I'll steal Cinder Block ;)

Charlie Holmberg said...

Reminds me of a joke... but I have to tell you in person for it to be at all funny ;)

Clarissa Draper said...

I love odd names for characters but not really for my kids. They have to live through school.

Angela Cothran said...

I love odd names for characters. I get to indulge in all the name I like but there is no way my hubby would ever let me use.

I have a question, have you ever based a character off of a name first?

Nancy Thompson said...

I have a real issue with picking names (which I'm posting about tomorrow.) You see, I spent tons of time researching the perfect name for my male MC. Its history and everything were perfect for him. Then a superstar agent said she had only one real problem with my book, and that was his name. She said Skylar was only a girls name. WRONG! But I couldn't discount her out of hand. Though historically it is a guy's name, it is quite common for a girl these days. So I changed it. To Tyler. It felt like renaming my child.

Carrie Butler said...

The (female) MC in my latest WIP goes by a "real word" name: Jet. :) Great post, Pegasus!

Tracy Bermeo (aka A2Z Mommy) said...

Love those names that aren't really names. It makes the characters so endearing.
A2ZMommy and What’s In Between

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

I LOVE those kind of names - I wish I was better at thinking them up! And I knew a girl whose name was Cinder, and we did call her Cinder Block :)

Taffy said...

I'm excited for Storymakers! I need to get my pitch ready. Maybe I can practice on you?
I'm going to Boot Camp Thursday night. What about you??