Monday, January 11, 2010

Modern . . . Nicknames

First, don't forget to enter Friday's giveaway before this Thursday for a chance to win Stephanie Morrill's amazing Out with the In Crowd!

Oh, and several features and giveaways of A Stray Drop of Blood this week. First up is Sandi Rog's blog, where she flatters me by saying how my passion shows up in my writing, and next is Trish Perry's blog, where there's an interview that actually made me THINK--the nerve! LOL I'll be appearing a few other places this week too and will let everyone know when the links are up. =)


Have you ever stopped to think about our nicknames for each other? I'm not talking about things that are just shortened versions, or standard nicknames (even if they don't always make sense, lol) for a name. I'm talking the weirder ones. You know why I love them? Because they tell a story about the characters.

In my stories, I tend to stumble into them. I don't generally think anything of them, but one of my critique partners will inevitably pick up on each and every one and comment on how fun they are. (Hi, Mary!) Her attention has turned my attention to it and made me wonder why they're so important.

A few examples, for the fun of it. In my work-in-progress, I have a friend of my hero's who's ridiculously tall. My hero says, off the cuff, "Maybe to you, Jolly Green, but the rest of us . . ." My critter got a kick out of that one, simply because it shows an ease between the guys, the fact that they find fun where they can. From the same story, the hero's sister's called Peaches, and my Arab heroine isn't sure when she first hears it if this is an American term of endearment or any actual name. In reality (can we say that when talking about fiction??) she got the name by taking a bite of every single peach from a bushel her mother bought when she was two. (Aheming at MY sister, who did this same thing, though never got a nickname out of it.) It's going to give an impression of someone all soft and sweet and fun, which will disguise the shrewd woman underneath.

In my beach series, characters that are supporting in book one and later take the limelight call each other Beanpole and Bulldozer. Now, it's obvious why the 6'6" Garret gets the Beanpole appellation, right? The kids in school called him that when he was young, and Celeste, who hasn't seen him since they were eleven, only remembers him by that name. She, as it happens, is the one called Bulldozer--for reasons also obvious when you get to know her. This woman knows what she wants and will proudly push anyone or anything out of her way.

I think part of the reason I do this is probably Orson Scott Card's Lost Boys. Has anybody read that?? It's a really good, really terrifying book about a family that moves to North Carolina and--well, I don't actually know how to describe it without giving it away. Let's just say infestations of insects, some lost little boys that the family's son befriends, a baby who they discover has some issues, a job that isn't working out right . . . yeah. It's heavy, yet a light read.

But anyway. One of the things that I loved most was that the father (who was the main character) had fun nicknames for all his kids, names that wouldn't have made sense to an outsider. His wife was constantly saying, "Don't call them that!" but even she objected with humor. They knit the family together. And then at the end, he stops with the nicknames. That was when I--I, Roseanna the Impenetrable, Roseanna the Dry-Eyed--cried.

In a lot of ways, our names are who we are. And when the ones our parents gave us at birth become too small to define us, our loved ones tack on a few others. My critters call me RO, not because it's the first two letters of my name, but because we have a joke that I'm Roseanna-Optimist. My grandmother calls me Boat, which no one in their right mind would get until I say, "You know . . . Roseanna Banana became Banana, and Banana became Banana Boat, and that just became Boat." My sister calls me Pooky because in high school she discovered that "pooky" means "a small, cute creature" and decided that fit her baby sis. (My nieces now call out "Aunt Pooookyyyyyy!" which is adorable.) And let me just say, I've gotten a lot of questions on that one. =)

In writing and life, we need to take care of what we call people and what people call us--you just never know when that might be the one thing others remember.


  1. I love this! Great post! :)

    Michelle V

  2. I think that's one of the reasons I find naming kids so darn difficult! Because it's their name FOREVER. With characters, it's so much easier because you have the luxury of knowing how they'll turn out :)