'Bob Marley isn't my name. I don't even know my name yet.' - Bob Marley, ”What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, Characters, Irish Stew in the name of the lawn, It's all in a name, Lady Gaga is my name. If you know me and you call me Stefani you don't really know me at all., Lana bo Bana Banana fanna fo Fana Fee fy mo Mana Lana!, Next to La Vie en Rose- nice eh?, Pepper Pepper bo Bepper Banana fanna fo Fepper Fee fy mo Mepper Pepper!, Pirate was going to be my middle name but then my uncle had a problem with it because pirates are bad. -Billie Eilish, Prose, still not reading your winning prose but one day my corneas it shall enclose, Suit's you sir/madam/me dear, The Name Game, What a heavy burden is a name that has become too famous - Voltaire, Writing
Names are powerful, they create a subliminal image to the characters in books, poetry and lyrics, one added to the information provided in detail by the author/lyricist and it’s entirely due to our life experiences and the social climate. They can make or break a character sometimes, or may actively put someone from reading at times.
Take Sharon Brown. Please take her, because I’m nothing but bored by her company already. This is not to say Sharon couldn’t be turned into a homicidal maniac who wears spaghetti hats (tinned) and can sing any song you fancy backwards, for, of course she can in the hands of the right author; however, she isn’t helping much.
Here are some of the finest names in fiction, ones that stay with the reader for years afterwards and which show the writers were well aware of who their characters were and the power of monikers:
Tyler Durden – A fictional, fictional character playing opposite the main character who has no name at all, so devoid of life is he. (Chuck Palahalahuink (who has a name and a half himself, let’s face it, also one which I regularly spell like that, despite his actual surname being Palahniuk – forgivable I’d hope))
Veruca Salt – A spoilt nasty piece with a name that reads even ever worse (Roald Dhal – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.)
Humbert Humbert – Embuing an air that something is very wrong here, and indeed it was (Vladimir Nabokov – Lolita.)
Edmond Dantès – The perfect name for a Count, but it also has the ring of revenge to it when spoken aloud (Alexandre Dumas – The Count of Monte Cristo.)
I love a spot of revenge, which leads me to another fierce fighter for justice. . .
Inigo Montoya – ‘I will go up to the six-fingered man and say, “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”‘ (William Goldman – The Princess Bride.)
Owen Meany – Superb job done here for an unusual character in an unusual tome. (A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving)
Hercules Barefoot – Another stunner here which is helped along by the fantastic title (Titles are also incredibly important, they should hook the reader, not mew from some corner in another room in another house). – (The Horrific Sufferings of the Mind-Reading Monster Hercules Barefoot, his Wonderful Love and Terrible Hatred by Carl-Johan Vallgren)
Slartibartfast – Phenomenal – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe by Douglas Adams
And so forth:
Dr. Henry Jekyll . . . etc
A character knows when their name is right, but I don’t think the authors can always be bothered waiting for them to pipe up. I give them the first names presented from the aether when first I pen their tale, it matters not at that point; then slow but sure they tell me how right I am or not as we get to know each other. The two main characters for The Book (of power and potential litigation falls about) I am compiling at present started off as Edward Smithfield and Joseema. She has had no second name for three years, so I left her alone to see what would happen, but nothing happened at all. Frustrated I tried changing her first name but she went up the wall making sounds only dogs and sherbert lemon dips can hear, so Joseema alone remained with no surname at all. Until not so long ago.
On the serendipitous eve in question, as the sunset in Somerset late September, she woke me in the night, told me to go to the loo for a swift wee and said “Ao. My name is Joseema Ao.” I thought it such a strange surname but dashed back, grabbed the pen at my bedside and scribbled it down, and in the morning light – lo, Lo I say – Ao it was – she was bob on with it – but how could she not be? As it happened, shortly before this Edward had become impatient and scolded me for Smithfield pointing to his nephew’s name, Swampy Underfoot (not an action his actual name) and said what a fool I’d been with all the ‘Smithfield’ nonsense. I said I’d give him more hair if he’d shut up for five bastard minutes and let me think. I tried the letters on him as I would a suit jacket, held on either side for him to slip on, and it was a perfect fit. We were both pleased and I got some sleep and he got less bald.
Sometimes the first name is the right one mind, but usually, I’ll like one yet something tiny, a sharp rusty hair of a thing keeps scratching at my right calf or the nape of my neck complaining. Time and Jack Daniels always supplies the answers. (Notes that last line down as one of ‘Esme’s Greatest Undeniable Truths’.)
Joseema Ao and Edward Underfoot. They change names, sexualities, genders, faces and other bits throughout the book, but the core remains the same, and their soul’s names are as stated above. I know the two now as well as I know some humans who can show off in 3D, however, my two cores drink less coffee and don’t muck up the carpet the all the time.
So . . . tell me the name of your favourite character in a book, play, film or song. If you are a writer tell me the name of the one you love the best that has been of your own (or so you think) creation.
And in the meanwhile . . . Esme sharing a short clip of her 489th birthday party.