Names in writing

I admit that I obsess over names of places and people in my writing.  I’ve never had a character named something simple and straightforward like Bob.  If I were to write a Bob character, he would have to have no arms and no legs and be in the swimming pool.  My obsession is not so much about demonstrating layers of meaning or advancing theme.  I really just love naming things. 

In the past few days I’ve found that not all share my love.  Last night I drove past a Ford Probe.  Who thought of that?  It was not the marketing department.  They probably worked for months to overcome it.  “Grab your buds and probe.”  “I’ll pick you up with my Probe.”…..I could go on and on.  Conversely, there is a Mazda 3.  Not a lot of work went into that either. 

“Waddaya wanna name that car?”

“Well, it’s our third one…..”

I’ve recently seen another couple names that work just fine in print but do not translate well to verbal communication.  Near my home is a Cox Solution Center.  I have no idea what they do.  I just imagine the conversations. 

“My cable isn’t working.”

“Well, let me show you my Cox solution.”

The BSW and I were recently in Newport, RI.  Newport is a lovely coastal town full of history and great architecture.  It is also home to the Seamen Church.  They did spell it correctly, and I know exactly what they mean when I read it.  Spoken…..not so much.

“I’m going to seamen worship.”

I passed an Advance Auto Parts store today while pondering names.  I wonder if they know it should be Advanced Auto Parts.  Their name as it is encourages, or orders me, to advance auto parts.  I don’t know what that means.  Do I demand equal rights for auto parts?

My all time, hall of fame favorite is this one from our local grocery store:

Words and names matter.  Call me obsessive, call me juvenile, but my writing does not have anyone probing with their Cox for Seamen or eating Cock flavored soup.

I’m Darren, and words matter.

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2 Responses to Names in writing

  1. Lady Diction says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Right before I read this, I created a Diction Graph from my poetry class. I usually come up with my titles and names first, story second. It’s how I roll.

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