What is in a name?

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

― William ShakespeareRomeo and Juliet

                        Names are unfortunately a necessary evil.  There are so many meanings and so many options where names are concerned.  Many grow to dislike the name that was given them,  for various reasons.  Some  seek to change the name given them.  As a writer I have often used a brain exercise involving names to clear my mind.  It’s actually even a semi interesting game.  Choose a letter… any one will do. I often do all the letters to expand my mind,  but all that is necessary is one.  Then using the chosen letter list every name you can think of.  For example if I choose “f” I would likely do a list like this:

Forest Fredrick Francine Frank Franco Francis Flicka Flora Florence  Flo Fred Frieda Fanny Franny Filla Francisco Francois Fenton Fester Fang Fresca Fip Frack Faith Ford Fessa Fry Frost Fauna Fenella Fena Fenelle Flava Fish

Admitted I usually do better but this was just an example.  The only rules are that it must be a name or make sense if used as one. Now as a writer this has more than one purpose. 

First it really is a brain exercise.  It causes you to concentrate. Thinking of those names are harder than you think. Find it too easy?  Set a goal for how many names you will think of. Brain exercises are something that gets your mind thinking,  not always something that requires genius levels of thought.

Second it can clear the mind for writing.  Sitting down to write is sometimes complicated by the random thoughts bouncing around in your mind.  Meditation helps but some fun can as well.

And lastly,  it gives you a list of names to help to flesh out various characters in your story with.

This is a easy game to use in both solitary and community play.  Set a time frame.  A minute or five. Then whomever gets the most names in the time allowed wins.

Remember unusual names are more possibility. Especially if you can give a neat background on the name.  For example,  My little brother is named Shane. My parents had a difficult time naming him. My father wanted to name him John ad a relative.  My Mom felt the name John too common.  So they reached a compromise.  Shane is a derivative of john.  This adds to the story of who the character of Shane is.
          So what is your favorite name?  And why? What does the name mean?  Sometimes choosing the meaning of the character name will help you to build a character that sticks in your reader’s mind. Keep in mind that if the person grew in some societies with an odd or unusual name it may not have been a pleasant thing. Or when they had said name.  For example.  I had an aunt named Beulah.  Now days this name is fairly antiquated.  This would cause cruel treatment from the peers of any child with the bad luck to be given it.
            So cmon…names…. discuss.

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