“Yes, like the song,” I’ve said hundreds of times, often followed by me standing with gritted teeth while the person I’ve introduced myself to starts singing the chorus of the Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline, the song I was, indeed, named after.
Over the years my mortification has worn out, and I’ll even hum along, sometimes. Do yourself a favor and listen to the lyrics…it’s actually a bit creepy. Though it’s much better than the Outkast song Roses, a modern ode to Caroline that came out just as I was changing high schools. There, the teens wanted to know if I really was “the reason for the word bitch” (honestly I could be, particularly at that age).
Being a Caroline as a child and teen wasn’t always mortifying, despite the built-in theme music. I was always the only one in my class, and only ever had to contend with two others throughout my schooling. It was nice, being singular without sticking out too much. Also, my name was incredibly easy to remember. You know, because of the songs and all.
It was my mom who first chose the name, then quickly looked it up to make sure the meaning wasn’t heinous. According to the baby book she used, Caroline is “one who is strong.”
Be careful what you wish for?
This attention to names and naming is something I find myself doing when choosing monikers for the characters in my stories. Some just come to me, while others are a study in patience as I sort by region, syllables, and meaning in order to discover who it is I’m creating.
A few of my favorite site are:
When creating names for characters I find myself thinking about a lot of variables. Is there another character with a similar name, already? What are their nicknames, if any? Can their name be rhymed with something terrible? Do their initials spell something bad?
Most of these questions are what new parents obsess over when naming their children, so they might sound familiar (I hope they sound familiar, please pay attention when naming your kids!). And understandably the stakes for me aren’t quite as great. None of my creations are going to live outside of the worlds I generate for them, but in order for each character to have a personality and trajectory, they need to first be individuals as well-rounded as possible.
And so we start with a name.
Interested in showing your support?