Sunday, May 20, 2018

Just a Name

“What's in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other word would smell as sweet;

You probably recognize that line from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”.   As a writer, I’m always on the lookout for distinctive names. I like to use memorable names for my characters, ones that stand out a bit from the pack.  

Often names may even give you a clue as to how a character may behave. In my new short story “Stealing Haven”, Jamie meets a guy named Randy. It doesn’t take long before the sparks begin to fly. When it comes to Jamie, Randy is certainly…well, randy.  Want more details?  Check out Webster’s definition and you get the idea.  You’ll have to wait until June 19 to read the actual story.

So this week my path crossed with many people. Two young ladies, at different times and places, caught my attention.  One was named Emerald, the other was Treasure.  Definitely not the usual Susan or Mary. So I’ll add these to my list for characters and see where they might come in handy.

You need a good description of the character to go along with the name.  Here’s an excerpt from “Why 319?”.  In this scene, Chene is meeting with cyber squad, who are tasked with reviewing the technology from the three homicides in the hopes of identifying the killer.

Yekovich was waiting for me at the doorway. He was about five six, with coarse black hair and a mustache that was so thick it didn’t look real. He had a habit of smoothing it out with his thumb when he talked.

“You’re working late.”

“This serial killer got my interest. I was home watching a hockey game when my guy called, so I came back in. If there’s anything my team can do to help nail him, we want a part of it.”

“Spoken like a real cop.”

Yekovich gave me a light jab on the shoulder. “I am a real cop, asshole. See, they even let me carry a gun.” With that, he pointed at the pistol clipped in a holster on his belt.

“Damn, they’ll give anyone a weapon these days.”

He led me down a corridor into a series of large workstations. There were two technicians working. Computer components were spread across the counters, with large-screen monitors streaming data bytes like a stock exchange ticker gone wild. Yekovich stopped beside the last workstation.

“This here is Jeremy,” he said, jerking a thumb at the gangly kid who was perched on a stool, staring intently at a monitor. The kid raised his eyes momentarily to look at me. “Sergeant Chene. He’s running that investigation.”

“Hey, Sarge.”

I nodded to the kid. He didn’t look old enough to drive, but he seemed right at home behind the pile of computer equipment. “So, what ya got?”

The kid was about to fill me in when Yekovich cut him off. “Use plain English and get to the point, Jeremy. Chene here chases real killers, not video game demons.”

He paused to consider the best way to explain it. “I’ve been reviewing all the video from the external feed, the cameras that were on the motion detectors.”

“What did you find?”

“The majority of the files were pretty mundane. Mostly they were of this dude coming and going in his Jeep. A couple of times he had a few other guys over.”

“How far back are we talking?”

Jeremy tapped at his keyboard. “Earliest clips I’ve seen are date stamped around Thanksgiving.”

“Is there any video of women coming into the house?” Yekovich asked.

Jeremy shook his head. “Nothing yet, and I’ve been watching so I could compare anyone with the pictures you gave me earlier.”

“So why did you call me?”

“You need to see this, boss,” Jeremy said.

I was facing Yekovich. We worked together a few times over the years, and it wasn’t like him to call me without a reason. A sly grin crossed his face.

“The kid’s talking to you.”

Lately Chuck Berry has been popping up with frequency on my song list.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.   

1 comment:

  1. Tip (from sad experience): never pick a name that can also be used as a verb. In my 2nd book I named the heroine Rose. Lovely, huh? Except she got out of bed or up from a chair. Get it? Rose rose...never again.