Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What's in a (nick)name?

We've talked about naming our characters before, but what about nick names?  

Question for you Twilight readers.  Did it not drive you INSANE that Edward was ALWAYS Edward.  Edward. Freaking. Edward?  I mean, I can see that maybe it wouldn't fit to call him Ed or Eddie... but something would have been nice.  A pet name?  Bella got a nick name... several.  Heck, Bella IS her nick name, as was Bells.  (Thank goodness EDWARD didn't call her "My Pearl" or something ancient) You get the picture.

I get irritated when authors don't give at least the main characters nick names, especially if their name is super long and I have a hard time pronouncing it in my head in the first place.  

But the nick name has to fit.... And that can be a surprisingly hard decision.  
In an earlier story I've pretty much shelved, one of my main characters is named Jackson.  The first nick name that popped into my head for him was Sonny... (JackSONNY... get it?) which only his ex called him, everyone else called him Jackson.  Why didn't it occur to me to call him Jax or Jack??  Don't know.  But my beta readers kept asking who "Sonny" was.  Nick name did NOT work.  Now, I shelved it before I could be happy with an alternative, so it really doesn't matter anymore, but the point is, some nick names don't fit. 

What do you think about nick names for your characters?  Do you avoid them entirely?  Give them to one or two characters?  All of them?  Ever have a nick name just not cut it?

 

15 comments:

  1. I think nicknames add depth to a character. I give my characters nicknames, usually they are just contractions, eg. Penelope = Penny = Pen.

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  2. In my wip, my characters don't have nicknames. I thought about it, but they didn't seem right.

    In my new project, the mc will be referred to by her nickname.

    I couldn't imagine Edward being called Ed or Eddie. It just wouldn't feel right.

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  3. i give EVERYONE nicknames, not just in stories, but in life... now whether i tell them what their nicknames are... that's another story.

    totally agree when the character has a long, hard to pronounce name, a nickname is a must!

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  4. I don't always have nicknames for my characters. Some characters just don't warrant one, others couldn't get by without one. This WIP I've got hanging right now, the MC's name is Josephine - she goes by Jo for the most part. Her ex keeps calling her Babydoll, just to tick her off but when he's really feeling for her, he calls her Josie. In an early draft, the villain kept calling her Jojo. In this case, the nicknames were fun and they add to the story. =o)

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  5. ooh i almost ALWAYS have nicknames for my characters. Perhaps just for some characters, but unless the name doesn't work with a nickname, they get one

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  6. Haha, I love thinking up nicknames for characters! I think it's because I have so many nicknames (my dad came up with about ten for me as I was growing up). And I totally hated that Edward never had a nickname!

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  7. A couple nicknames can work, since they usually denote a deeper relationship or special bond. But it's true, it's hard to pick the right one!

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  8. Both the MCs in my last novel went by nicknames. Lillian = Lily, Thomas = Tom. Didn't even think about it, really. :)

    I just read a book in which one of the characters' name was Selena, but both the MC and the char's husband called her "Lanie." Call me crazy, but I don't see the connection...

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  9. Agreed! Nicknames of any sort add character and can also reveal how close certain relatinships are between the characters.

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  10. I don't mind if a character doesn't have a nickname. I have friends with the name Matthew and Jonathan and Ashley who have always gone by their full names; they don't like being called Matt, Jon, or Ash. So I think if it fits the character's personality, then full names are fine!

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  11. Ooooo good question! I definitely had nicknames in my YA MS. Amy = Ames, Daniel = Dan (Danny, for the guy who didn't like him, etc. With my historical one, though, it seems weird to come up with nicknames for people like Achilles. I mean...how do you shorten that? lol I agree about Edward. The name is already awful. Why did she always have to keep calling him that? At least Jacob got Jake.

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  12. Yes I definitely see how different time periods could render nicknames unnecessary. I've only written in present day so far, so I haven't had to consider that. :)

    I do also like nicknames that have nothing to do with the name--like B.E.'s character being called "Babydoll". Love it! And I like when villains have fun nick names for their prey. LOL.

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  13. I love nicknames for my characters. Really, who in real life doesn't have a nickname of some sort? I think they're kind of essential. :)

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  14. Nicknames can be tricky, possibly causing confusion with your readers, especially if you go back and forth between the nick name and given name. It could depend on how many characters your story has. Fewer characters would make it easier to use nicknames.

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  15. I've never used a nickname for my characters before. For some reason, one just never seems to fit. But I understand where you're coming from! Glad I could stop by your blog :)

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