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Sunday, April 12, 2015

April Is About Storms, Daisies & Diamonds

As a storm lover, I have many fond childhood memories of hurricanes that passed close by, but not quite close enough to hit us. The very air was charged with suspense as a storm would approach. I can still see my father at his desk, charting and tracking an oncoming seasonal monster. Then the bluster and blow would consume us as we were inundated by gale force winds and pelting rain. Refreshing cool air always followed after it passed. The storms of my memories were much less threatening than the intensity of those we are faced with nowadays.

When I looked at the theme for April ~ Storms, Diamonds, Daisies ~ something occurred to the writer in me: the importance of quirky character names.

A picture can be worth a thousand words, and I believe a creative name can go a far way toward giving the reader clues about the heroine, hero or villain.

What sort of character do you envision with the name Stormy?

I see an old man living on a houseboat that is docked in a marina. His face is weathered, his teeth few, his features fierce. Sharp eyebrows and pale eyes give him a perpetual ‘stormy’ look. A salt and pepper shock of wild hair shoots out at strange angles. Maybe he smokes a pipe and wears suspenders. His gnarled hands have fixed many a torn net. His only companion is an equally unkempt and unfriendly looking dog.

Stormy might also be the name of a mysterious Native American woman who moved to a city from a rural location. She has the uncanny ability to magnetize scary thunderstorms into existence and can even initiate rain showers. She speaks very little, has a stormy, tempestuous nature, and tends to destroy anything positive that is about to happen for her. She is only kind to a six-year old mute boy. They seem able to communicate perfectly. 

Daisy, on the other hand, shows herself to my muse as a blond-haired, blue-eyed girl with an innocent and pleasing personality. She is an open book with a simplistic approach to loving and living, and trusts others. She cries easily and laughs a lot. Her sweet, sunny disposition makes her a prime target for the vampires that prey on innocent young people.

Or, is Daisy a tan and beige dairy cow? The pretty cow stands beneath the shade tree in the pasture, wearing a brass cowbell. She has a pretty face, and is pleasing to the eye, with a dreamy expression in her milk chocolate eyes as she chews her cud.

Diamond is a stripper at a dance club. She guards her private life intensely, and her glare withers anyone who asks a personal question. Her mysterious past and temperamental attitude cause everyone to keep their distance, and that’s just how she wants it. She is a tough-as-nails gal who can withstand earthquakes and betrayal, and bounce back from any disaster. 

Would it have the same impact in your mind’s eye if Stormy the old sailor was named Jim?
Does the Native American woman named Stormy sound like a Sheila?

And Daisy, sweet Daisy—could she be a Mary?

There are many bovine names that suit cows, of course, but Daisy suits her.

Diamond the stripper could be called Stormy, and it would work, too. But can you see her as a Betty or Harriet?

This is just a reminder to us all to go deeper when choosing character names. It can so greatly enrich our novels.

Do you have fond memories of a memorable character name that has stuck with you over time? If so, please share.

GEMMA JULIANA is a multi-published author who lives in an enchanted cottage in north Texas with her handsome hero, teen son and a comical dog. She loves making new friends and hearing from readers. Exotic coffee and chocolate fuel her creativity.

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Lynda Bailey said...

Awesome post! Thanks so much for sharing your take on choosing character names. I personally can't begin to write a story until the names of the majority characters are figured out. (And I love Stormy the stripper... )

Cara Marsi said...

Great post. I loved your name choices to go with the characters.

Gemma Juliana said...

Hi Lynda, I really enjoyed Stormy the stripper as well. She was nudging me to write more about her as I 'invented' her, so who knows... she might show up in a future story! Like you, I've got to have names before I can 'feel' the character, but I've been known to change a character's name mid-draft as well. Thanks for reading my post.

Gemma Juliana said...

Hi Cara,

Thanks for commenting. Glad you enjoyed the post.

jean hart stewart said...

Great reminder of how important our character names are. I spend a lot of time picking the right names for my characters. Current hero is Lance, short for Launcelot, and I love that name. Fun column!

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