I was browsing through my reviews when I saw this review of my book, The Other Man.
“I enjoyed this book, but it had things in it that bothered me. The characters names completely threw me off at times. It seemed like most of the characters had at least two different names, and I sometimes got confused. Also, the nicknames were annoying. Other than that, I really liked this book. The story line was excellent and the writing was strong. This is the third book that I have read by this author and I look forward to reading more. Keep up the good work, Parker J. Cole.”
I honed in on the comment the reviewer made about the nicknames. After I read it, I went through my book and I noticed a recurring theme – darn it all, there’s a lot of nicknames.
In Many Strange Women, we’re introduced to the Martin and Greene family whose lives collide when the oldest Martin girl marries the Greene’s only son – without telling anyone. Suffice to say, a lot is discovered as these two families learn more about the other.
I made a list my main cast of characters and all the names they’re associated with from both books of the Sins of the Flesh series. The chart shows their given names and the nicknames
|Celeste Greene nee Martin||Icy||Celeste||Icy|
|Solomon Greene||Sol||Mr. Greene||Given Name|
|Leah Westwood nee Martin||Blaze||Leahgirl||Blaze||Little girl (by ex-flame Vincent)|
|Goijaart Thomas||Gonzo||Given name by Celeste|
|Cordelia Greene||Given name||Reverend Daughter of the Church of the True Virgin of the Washed Saints|
|Theodore Greene||Theo||Exalted Son of the Church of the True Virgin of the Washed Saints|
|Patrick Batcher||Raj||Batcher by Cordelia Greene and ‘old boy by Theodore Greene|
Imagine my surprise to see this reviewer was right. My current WIP (work-in-progress) is my first full length sci-fi novel. Wouldn’t you know, my two main characters have nicknames. I was shocked. Where did this fascination with shortening people’s names come from?
I guess it stems from the fact I’m known by different nicknames myself. My older sister calls me one of three at any given time: ‘Stump’, ‘Stump-o-tree’, and ‘Treestump’. My twin calls me ‘Jennay’ (from the movie Forrest Gump). One of my author friends refers to me PJ. My hubby calls me…well, he doesn’t say my name very often. Can ‘Hey you’ be a nickname?
As I pondered this, I saw I tend to shorten people’s names. In my mind, you can be different things to different people. ‘Stump’, as my older sister calls me, refers to the fact I have short legs. My twin calls me ‘Jennay’ to mirror the affection Forrest Gump had toward Jennifer in the movie. As twins, we’re two parts of one person.
And on it goes. Nicknames denote fondness among close family and friends. They bind a group of people together because they can refer to an aspect of a person or an unforgettable event. The day my older sister called me ‘Treestump’ was when she saw me reaching for an item in the cabinet in our apartment. Apparently one of those neurons cells turned on and connected the stump of a tree with my short legs and thus the name stuck. My twin on the other hand laughed at Forrest’s pronunciation of his love’s name but over time, she attributed that to me.
After I saw the correlation I saw with my writing and my own life, the last question to answer is simply this: Will I continue to use nicknames in my books?
I have no idea why but my favorite nickname of all time (and I have no idea why) is Googely Bear.
I tried to call the hubby that…needless to say it didn’t work.
What are some of your favorite nicknames? What about the ones you hate? Love? Share!