Friday, April 13th, 2012

Writing Prompt – By Any Other Name…

Movie Poster for the Movie HeidiNames are important.

They provide identity, reveal the culture or interest or nature of the namer.

They’re a source of embarrassment. Or pride.

They can cause all kinds of conflict.

I went to school with a woman whose grandmother had strict policies for naming the kids in the family. When her daughter was pregnant, she demanded the child be given an ethnic name.

Many arguments ensued, with my friend’s mom steadfast against the idea, but the grandmother eventually got her way. Little wonder that our professors were often surprised when Heidi’s name was called from the roster and a black woman responded to the question.

Well, the grandmother never stated what kind of ethnic name she wanted.

In my latest manuscript, both main characters are saddled with untenable names. The girl is named with a religious moniker — thanks to the nuns at the Catholic hospital where she was born, and the male lead is given a “family” name.

(I can hear a lot of folks groaning now.)

My first beau had such a name, and it caused him all kinds of embarrassment. Luckily for my character, like my boyfriend, his embarrassment is a middle name…

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • You have moved to a new county, and the laws state you must change your first name if you want to reside there permanently. What do you change your name to? How does this new name reflect who you are?
  • Write about name-calling.
  • Someone is saying your name…
  • Some to the fascination of a name surrender judgment hoodwinked. ~ William Cowper
  • He was also known as…
  • My grandmother called me by this name.
  • Write a story about a culture who believes names are all-powerful. Children are not named at birth, and choose their own when they are ready. They never reveal these secret names. How do people refer to each other? How do they choose the ‘names’ they go by in every day life?
  • A name is a kind of face whereby one is known. ~ Thomas Fuller
  • Open a phone book at random and drop your finger down on a name. Write about that person or business. What does the name inspire?
  • I do beseech you, (Chiefly, that I might set it in my prayers,) What is your name? ~ William Shakespeare, the Tempest. Act III, Scene 1.
  • Write the essay (or a journal entry, or a letter to your children…), “I was named this because…”

Good Luck!