I quite recently read several things about names. I have to tell you, I’ve had some people tell me I’m too touchy on this topic.
I once asked someone how to spell the name of a relative, I was told, “it’s just a name, sound it out.”
I’m sorry, it’s not “just a name”, it is that person’s moniker. It is part of who that person is. I might be more of a stickler than most about how my name is spelled, but I have reason to be.
One of my earliest school memories evolves a teacher telling me, several times I was spelling my name wrong, which I repeatedly refuted. She finally looked at me quite sternly and said, “You’re Bryon’s sister aren’t you?”
I’d like to point out that is exactly how my brother spells Brian. So yes, both of us have common names spelled exceptionally.
The teacher decided to let me spell Connie, with a K. Then she turned to Bonnie and asked, “How do you spell your name?”
Of course we thought she was crazy. How else are you going to spell Bonnie?
Mind you, we were five at the time.
In high school I had an experience where someone needed to write my name down and didn’t bother to ask me how to spell my rather common sounding first or middle name, but then did ask how to spell my last name.
I’d like to point out that our maiden name was a combination of two simple four letter words. I replied. “Just like it sounds,” I repeated it for emphasis. “You spelled the rest of it wrong.”
I then had to explain how she misspelled my first and middle names. She also had to write down my brother’s and Bonnie’s names, leaving her to believe our whole family had weirdly spelled names. (Only Bryon’s first name and Bonnie’s middle name, and no, just us three, in our whole family.)
Now, as an older woman, and aspiring author, I’d seriously looked at the notion of a pen name, but was told in a nutshell, why monkey with something as memorable as what I already have.
As a young adult, a group I belonged to made a phone list that listed everyone’s name with their nickname. Each listing read: first name “nickname” last name. Mine read: Konnie “Konnie with a K” then my last name. Even after I moved out my Dad got phone calls asking for “Konnie with a K”.
I also have another reason to stress how my name is spelled. “C” Connie Enos, is the wife of my husband’s younger brother. I tell people if they spell my name incorrectly they have my kids’ aunt, not me.
But as I think about how names are spelled, I wonder about how our characters feel about it. How my name is spelled is part of who I am. I find it rude to misspell it, when it’s intentional or done repeatedly. I do understand mistakes. But as strongly as I feel about my name, I’ve never written a character with the same intense feelings nor have I had any problems with changing a character’s name as a story progressed. Then again, I’ve never written a story with a character who had a name that was unusual or spelled in a surprising way.
What do you think about names, and how they affect characters attitudes?
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.