Fun with names

My name is Penna Marie. Whatever name that some editor or agent determines that I should have I am determined to keep my name “Penna.” I didn’t use to like my name. It was created by a sad misspelling when my grandfather signed my mother’s birth certificate. At home I go by Marie. In middle school I was bullied and they enjoyed twisting my name and instead called me by a certain male organ. Ok, maybe “didn’t like” is a bit of an understatement.

When I moved in the second year of High School I actually toyed with the idea of having everyone call me Marie (but didn’t because I felt that I would be betraying my mom in some way). And then I walked into my first Latin class. This little seventy year old lady reached my name during roll call, pronounced it correctly, and then began to conjugate it. And then ended with “Meaning: Quill… like a pen.”

Fate. Destiny. God’s will. Whatever you call it at that moment I felt that it had been foretold that I was to be a writer. This was a sign. My name means pen.

Instead of signing my stories as P.M.Fischer from then on it has always been Penna Fischer.

It also kindled a new passion. The meaning of names and their etymology. I’m sure there isn’t a writer out there that hasn’t purchased a baby name book somewhere or perused a website for a few hours. My passion and research goes beyond that. While as a fantasy writer I do appreciate a good Tolkien-esque name with odd vowels and twisting consonants, I feel there are enough names in the world that I rarely bother creating one.

And it’s more than just what the meaning of the word is. Take my main character Maxine. My poor little angelic Fallen One – doomed to dark prophecies. Maxine: female form of the name Maximus, which in Latin means “Great” and is how we get words like “maximum”. Ok, now you might feel like I’m just being pretentious with my character’s name. But you know, you should really try searching names on Wikipedia some time. I almost dare you to find a “Maximus” that does not have some questionable past or didn’t do something just violently, and awfully bad. Then again there are a few that did some really good things. Oh, and not to mention there’s the perception of the name, too… ok now maybe I am just being pretentious, haha.

Messing around with names and characters are a lot of fun, too. I couldn’t just call my femme male sprite, Chris. No, I named him Kriss, a decidedly female version of the name.

Hrrrm, just based off of his name’s meaning does it make you wonder about my future intentions~ And what about Maxine’s last name, Alciard? Odd that I would choose what sounds like a made-up name when I just got done telling you how I feel about names.

Almost like a riddle isn’t it?

It’s quite enjoyable to also look up the names of some of my favorite book characters and I wonder if those authors put just as much thought into the naming as I do. I mean… really… Edward and Bella? Heh. Almost as boring as the characters themselves.


One thought on “Fun with names

  1. Aneta says:

    Love this post!! so true..i always spend hours looking up names on the internet when I need new character names. And I love giving them nicknames through out the book 🙂 Great post!


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