Consider that names are not arbitrary decisions to assign
words to objects for representation. When pulled out of a hat for no purpose or reason, the syllables we utter that stand
for this or that can be as silly as simply repeated sounds that others agree to use. Writer’s think about things like
names because the spoken word preceded the written language and when a writer “creates” the stories on the pages,
sometimes there is license and cause for deciding on new words, terminologies or new applications for existing conventions
that exist in names.
There are three basic elements found in a name:
1) some definitive characteristic, meaning, or idea that associates with the properties or has some affinity in common with
the name 2) properties of the language producing the word that will become a name 3) lasting use that may or may not result
in further associations that will add to the implications of the utterance or writing of the language symbols of the name.
As a writer, I find that names I use in fiction are not unconscious
selections but deliberate choices that I make for many of the reasons that I believe names are more than randomly assigned
words. Once in awhile, as an author, there is an opportunity to create names never before used. This is quite a different
task than choosing a character name from existing ones. Writing new names in fiction brings with it the need to define without
prior associations. Many times, other elements of the story lend a helping hand in choosing the name of a main character.
Some attention has been paid to the questions of symbolism and messages in the names of characters in literature over the
centuries. Most honestly, I think that a case can be made for using a character’s name for a greater purpose in the
narrative (I have been guilty of this at times), but often the narrative is assigned to the main character and some of the
idea that characters’ names were chosen for the narrative and not the other way around can be put down to reader inference.
Within the science of names, power is ascribed to naming and the use
of names in certain ways. The history of names is to find the beginnings and all associations for certain permutations and
adaptations of names in languages, That said, a stubborn pumpkin does not wish to be anything other than a pumpkin. Names
can be lost, stolen, replicated, passed on, given away, acknowledged and used. However, I doubt that the power of the universe
resides in naming. This does not mean that names are not valuable and crucial to maintaining external identification
and internal consistency for living creatures as they associate their existence with self.
Stubborn pumpkins will always be stubborn pumpkins, but writers will continue to find ways to use
pumpkins to create other reasons for readers to enjoy the creation of various natures where pumpkins are portrayed according
to writers’ intentions.
-Kimberly A. McKenzie