Monday, October 15, 2012

What's in a Name?

"The poet cannot invent new words every time, of course. He uses the words of the tribe. But the handling of the word, the accent, a new articulation, renew them."
EUGENE IONESCO

Ok, I admit I didn't know who Eugene Ionesco was when I first read this quote. I did a quick search and learned a little about him. I'm not sure if I would like his writing or not, but I still like this quote.

Why?

Well, I'm a little stuck with a little problem. I decided I needed to change the name of my villainess form the incomprensible and unkliked name "Sihrqayya" to "Kalidess."

Then I decided to check out the meanings of my other character's names . . .you know just to make certain they were good (to procrastinate and waste time).

I found out that Dantor is the name of a Haitian Voodoo goddess. Hmm. A bit of a problem there for me.

Dantor in my story is Clara's teacher, mentor, advisor. He's a guy with integrity and strength. He's the source of romance for my secondary mc, Stelia (Clara's unofficial mentor). I really like his name. I feel like it suits him.

However, if anyone does an internet search and looks up his name's meaning . . .well, dude looks like a lady is the first thing that comes to my quirky mind.

So, what do I do? Do I change Dantor's name to something like Dan or Torren?

Do I just keep it and try to reinvent and renew that name for my book?


20 comments:

Susan Roebuck said...

Well, I don't think there's anything wrong having Dantor as a name even if it means a voodoo goddess. Who's going to check that up? For all I know Susan might be something like that and I never knew :-) What I do suggest is that you don't have characters with unpronounceable names (imagine if your book became an audio book and someone had to read it).

L.G.Smith said...

If it bothers you, you could alter Dantor somewhat, like change it to Dantoro or Dantoros or something similar. It's a strong, masculine sounding name, so I'd probably just try and change it.

I had to change the name of one of my main characters awhile ago because so many people were using that name in their books, but I ended up just tweaking it enough to make it different, and I think it worked okay.

klahanie said...

Hi there,
Yes, it's me, Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet star! :)

You have brought up an interesting situation and my human has toyed with a few names in his stories and checked to see if they might have a possible meaning.

Pawsonally, sorry, personally, I believe that you go with the name that appeals to you. I think the name "Dantor" is just fine.
Pawsitive wishes, your way, Penny :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I understand your dilemma. As LG suggested, maybe a slight change to the name?
Almost afraid to do a search for any of the the names I selected now...

Jessie Humphries said...

Names are tough. I usually take months on them and change them 1-2 times!

Trisha said...

Yeah, you could change him subtly, like to Dantorr or Dantore or something. Here's hoping those two aren't goddesses of something or rather too!

michelle said...

I struggle with names. My characters remain Mr. X or Ms. Y for a very long time before they acquire proper identity...

Old Kitty said...

Dantor is a lovely name - and to be named after a deity of whatever gender is just fab!! Take care
x

mshatch said...

Unless I've actually invented/made up the name I always look up the meaning before I commit.

Ravena Guron said...

I tend to look up names and see their meanings, and pick them from that. Even if no one else spots the hidden meaning, I would know it was there. But that's just me. At the end of the day, it's your story, so you should be able to write what you want.

Tara Tyler said...

or you could change the spelling, the search again. dantorr? dentor? dahntor?

i just accept names, but i know others do look them up...and your readers appreciate the change of the villainess's name!

Carol Riggs said...

Yes, some people DO look up names...but I wouldn't worry about it. It SOUNDS like a male name, and if it fits his character, well, great! I also like Torren, however (though it sounds vaguely like torrid or torrent, neither of which are good connotations if you're going for integrity and strength LOL).

Laurel Garver said...

I agree with Carol that it's fine to use it or take Torren as a good substitute. It depends on how much it bothers/worries you. The pantheon of Haitian voodoo isn't exactly common knowledge, so it's unlikely your readers will draw the wrong conclusions about your character, unlike plucking a name from a better known set of cultural stories: Judas or Daedalus, for example.

nutschell said...

I think it's fine, but you could also change the spelling if you want. :)

Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

Tyrean Martinson said...

Susan - good point! I hope my books get to be so popular that they get an audiobook version!

L.G. - I like the idea of tweaking it!

klahanie/Penny - glad you have such a pawsitive idea on that!

Alex - thanks! I understand your reluctance to find out . . .I found out too much.

Jessie - glad I'm not the only one!

michelle - I know what you mean about not naming characters - my villainess was "The Evil Sorceress" in my first draft . ..which became kind of cumbersome.

Old Kitty - Glad you think so! Thanks!

mshatch - smart lady!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Ravena - I wish I had started with that method, but Dantor's name is kind of stuck in my head now. next time I'll be smarter about it.

Tara - good idea!

Carol - glad you think it sounds like a guy name!

Laurel - true, it's an unlikely jump . . .so I think I'm going to tweak the spelling and go with it.

nutshcell - thanks, I think that's what I'm going to do!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Ravena - I wish I had started with that method, but Dantor's name is kind of stuck in my head now. next time I'll be smarter about it.

Tara - good idea!

Carol - glad you think it sounds like a guy name!

Laurel - true, it's an unlikely jump . . .so I think I'm going to tweak the spelling and go with it.

nutshcell - thanks, I think that's what I'm going to do!

Cherie Reich said...

Ooo, I like the new name Kalidess.

And I know what you mean about Dantor. I like the name too, but it might cause conflicting images if someone knows/looks up the name. Names change, though, so at the same time, I think you could reinvent the name for your purposes.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Cherie - Glad you like Kalidess's name, and I'm going to just change the spelling for Dantor, Danterr, and hope that works.

M Pax said...

I think Dantor is fine. If that's his name,that's his name. I only change names if I read it aloud and it sounds funny or 'inappropriate'. lol

I think you should stick with his name. It sounds nice in my head.