Monday, October 17, 2011

Nicknames


I’m not sure when nicknames became popular, but it’s a rare person who doesn’t have one.

Goodness, our cats have so many, it’s no wonder they don’t answer to anything!

Nicknames can be a variation of a person’s actual name or something entirely new. When I was younger, the title ‘Lady Di’ was bestowed upon me. (Although I am NOT a Diana.) I also gained the nickname of ‘Spunky,’ which eventually led to my speaker name, ‘Spunk on a Stick.’ For the most part, only people I meet in real life call me Spunky though.

Sometimes nicknames become like pet names. My husband knows if he hears ‘Baby…’ it will be followed by a request for something. (I know, I’m terrible!)

Sometimes nicknames go the cutesy route. Although too much and it sounds childish and gay. (Marvin Wilson is the only one allowed to call me the Spunkster)

Regardless of how we feel about nicknames, people use them. And depending on the setting of your novel, a couple of your characters might use them, too.

Consider the friendships in your manuscript and the resulting nicknames. (Which could sound insulting even though spoken out of friendship.) Think about the couples in your story. They might have affectionate, even secret pet names for one another.

Do your characters have nicknames? Do you have a nickname?

And if I see anything other than Diane or Spunky in the comments, you’re in trouble!

26 comments:

Lynn said...

How about D? Am I still in trouble. I tend to just write initials, in emails and text messages but maybe I should be more sensitive to the possiblity the receiver would not like it!

I haven't used nicknames, but my character does have a formal name that only certain characters call her, the characters she is most attached to emotionally.

Anne Gallagher said...

I've had several nicknames over the years, the most notable being "Kitty". (Someday I'll share the story of how I got that one.)

My characters do have nicknames, although when writing, they are only used in dialogue. In narrative I use their given name. (Unless, of course, I've given them a nickname right from the start.)

Talli Roland said...

Don't tempt me, ha! :)

Funnily enough, I got called 'Diana' when I lived in Montreal for some reason. Lord knows why.

As for character nicknames... no. Hm. I've never actually thought about this!

Sarah Pearson said...

My characters names usually get shortened. One had a childhood nickname but that was a rarity. Me, I don't have a nickname as such, although my honey never calls me by my given name. He usually just makes something up :-)

Matthew MacNish said...

I think nicknames are incredibly important for characters in books. They provide some many layers of characterization, both for the giver and the receiver of the nickname.

Southpaw said...

I do the shortening of a longer name for nicknames in writing. Other names I used sparingly and carefully because I don't want to confuse anybody.

LD Masterson said...

When I was a kid, I always wanted a nickname. "Linda" was just too ordinary, plus there was at least three of us in every class (it was a popular name way back then). But outside of one Uncle calling me Lindy Loo - which I hated - I never picked one up.

Odd, after wanting one for so long, I really don't give many nicknames to my characters. Now I'll have to ponder this.

Christine Rains said...

I think I'm one of those rare people who have never had a nickname. Never. I've given my characters nicknames. A few which totally annoyed them!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Haven't used nicknames in my writing yet. The only one I don't like for myself is Al.

Johanna Garth said...

I come from an inveterate group of nicknamers. My characters, my family, everyone has nicknames. The family ones are (in no particular order) Pea, Birdie, Chooch, pookster, S, kissy missy, Big. I could on but I won't torture you anymore!

Jemi Fraser said...

My current wip is romantic suspense and I actually spent some time making sure the characters used nicknames for each other that aren't annoying or cloying! :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Lynn, you are not in trouble.

Anne, that will be an interesting story.

Talli, the short blond hair perhaps?

Sarah, my husband doesn't really have any names for me.

Matthew, that is very true.

LD, now I have you thinking...

Alex, I won't use it, promise.

Johanna, that deserves a story in of itself!

Jemi - cloying. Perfect word.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

What a neat little short post this is--and on a subject not often covered. I'd love to talk to you about running it in my newsletter. You know the e-mail address but it is hojonews (at) aol (dot) com. (-:

Best,
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Author of second edition of multi award-winning Frugal Book Promoter, www.budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo

VR Barkowski said...

I've always been called Veve (pronounced Veev), which I love. But because it's a diminutive of my real name (Viva), people have to come to it on their own. I can't just say, "call me Veve." It never works.

I absolutely use nicknames for my characters. A character's mother my call him one thing, his lover something else, his best friend something else yet again.

Jan Morrison said...

I have several nicknames 'La Banan' which is my clown name, my grandchildren call me Grannie Jannie Bananie, and my close girlfriends call me Jannie. My protagonist in True is called Sweet Pea. I like nicknames. Thanks for the reminder.

p.m.terrell said...

In my 13th book, Vicki's Key, I've introduced an Irishman who has a habit of finding nicknames for anyone he meets. The one that always melts hearts is Darlin' ... Until I introduced his character, I never thought much of using them.
As for me, I've never, ever gone by the nickname "Pat" and to this day anyone who calls me that gets my blood pressure moving. :) It's "Trish" though my first publisher insisted we never use it in public because she said it sounded too much like a hairdresser... Hhmmm....

Susan Fields said...

Just about fifteen minutes ago, I was working on my wip, and I decided to have a girl (one of the antagonists) call her boyfriend "baby." I'm still mulling over what that says about her, and about him. You're right, nicknames tell us a lot about the person using them, and the person they're used for.

Draven Ames said...

People use nicknames in real life, so characters should use them, too. Unless they just aren't the nick-name type. Then again, that tells you a bit about the character, doesn't it?

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Carolyn, I will do that!

VR, that is unique.

Trish, I can't picture you as a Pat! No way. But I don't associate Trish with a hairdresser either.

Susan, well, you know what it means to me.

Draven, it really does.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

My brother in law is nick-named Spunk. Few people know his real name. I don't really use any nicknames in my books and I don't even give them to my children. But as a teacher, I've given nicknames to kids that stuck with them into adulthood. All of them kind with funny stories behind them.

Stephen Tremp said...

I don't have any nicknames. Maybe because I've never had one. But now that I think about it, I can see how I could give some of my characters a nick name. A little late now though.

DEZMOND said...

I'm actually famous for giving nicknames to people, and even in our blogosphere you have at least dozen of people who got a nickname from me, some of them were even people who never had a nickname before I gave them one :)

Arlee Bird said...

I've often used nicknames for characters in my writing, but I've never been called by a nickname on a widely used regular basis. In high school I recall some guy used to call me "Juggler", but maybe he couldn't remember my name.


Lee
Tossing It Out
Please see my guest post at:
So You Want to be a Writer?

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Susan, that's funny he is a Spunk'y' too.

Dezmond, as long as they like the cutesy names. I am not a cutesy name person though.

Lee, maybe that's because you are a juggler?

J.L. Campbell said...

We call them pet names in Jamaica and most everybody has one. Mostly, I'm called J.

My characters do have their names shortened by I don't really go with cutesy ones that can definitely get annoying.

DL Hammons said...

I've gone back and forth about using nicknames in my books. I realize their part to real-life, but they can become confusing to the reader if we're not careful. I'm still debating! :)