Sunday, June 11, 2006

Politics of nicknames

Somewhere, apparently not here, I pledged to blog on Sundays, so here I am, but I must confess that I almost forgot!

Why? (How rude to admit it!)

I'm in the middle of an editing exercise that I'm finding fascinating. Recently... (actually May 31st -- I'm the sort of person who simply has to check facts) my Dorchester editor, Alicia Condon, emailed that she liked my suggestion that maybe the heroine of Insufficient Mating Material ought to have a nickname.

The heroine has a royally long, formal, hyphenated name. I began to feel that constantly repeating the full name was a bit tedious, but I didn't have time before my deadline to put sufficient thought into shortening it. I'm doing so now.

Have you ever given much thought to nicknames? Just because a hunk comes into the heroine's life, and he decides to call her "Ro" (for example) doesn't mean that she thinks of herself as "Ro" all of a sudden, when she has spent thirty years as Rowena, or Ro-Ro, or Janey, or I.

The rest of her friends and family won't suddenly start thinking of her as "Ro" or addressing her as "Ro". Will the hunk introduce Rowena to his friends as "Ro" or "Rowena"? How will Rowena feel about mere acquaintances using the "private" name?

Is this an alien idea? Different nationalities have different sensibilities about how they are addressed, and by whom. Factor in that the nicknamee is a member of a royal family, and life becomes really interesting.

Up the ante. Suppose the nickname isn't a variant of her given name... "Sugarpuss"? Suppose there's a slightly rude innuendo?

So, maybe only the hero uses the nickname. Does he ease into using it? At first, does he substitute "Ro" in conversation, where before he might have addressed the heroine as "Miss Rowena"? At what point does he wonder whether "Ro" can cook, and what "Ro" is like in bed. You might suppose that he wondered such things from a distance before he even learned the heroine's name!

Anyway, for what it's worth, this is what I'm wrestling with this week.

Best wishes,

1 comment:

Joy Nash said...

Hey Rowena

How about having the hero make up his own personal nickname for the heroine (maybe one she doesn't like???)