23 January 2006

What's in a name?

So Word Nerd is reading along this weekend, when the author introduces a new character. His name is David.
David. Word Nerd's thinking David, as in the guy who took down Goliath and became king, or David, as in the statue. Name a guy after a Biblical king or a famous piece of art, there are lots of expectations that readers bring to the character. This particular David, however, turns out to be a djinn. Djinn, as in genie, as in kind that poofs out of a bottle to do the master's bidding, as in a little more grown up version of the big-blue-voiced-by-Robin-Williams character from Aladdin.
David the Djinn just isn't working for Word Nerd. There's something not powerful enough about it.
Naming characters is hard, no doubt about it, because readers bring perceptions about the name to the character, often because of people they know with that name, or history, or just how the name sounds.
Think about it. Is a character named Schuyler Monroe a senator or a gumshoe or just a regular joe but had parents who were obsessed with names of presidents and obscure VPs? (If it's the latter, does he have a sibling named Spiro?)
Silly as it sounds, those name-the-baby books and websites are great resources for finding names that fit.
For djinn and everyone else.

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