The 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!
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
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
I very much enjoyed the notes from readers on last week's blog on
research. Thank you to all who took time to drop me a line. For
those who find this blogging intrusive and uninteresting, you could
try switching to Special Notices mode. :-)