Ah. Another instance of Twitter proving its worth for something more than promos, bizarre nonsequiters, and links to videos of kids, cats, and the never grows old excitement of exploding soda with Mentos. What is the plural of Mentos, by the way? Menti? Mentoses? Candies? But I digress. I followed a link to this awesome article on the equally awesomely titled Edwardian Promenade, about Edwardian baby names.

There are some gems there. From a  preGwyneth use of Apple to a list of some that Gomer Pyle might have called humdingers. After his eyes rolled back in his head, as he tried to pronounce a few, and promptly lost consciousness from syllable shock. All in one family that took name pretention to uncharted heights. Honestly, though, those unfortunate, if unique, childrens’ monikers prompted me to save that link.

I’m always on the lookout for character names. For me that’s a challenging, fun aspect of writing. It gets interesting, since I do both fiction and screenplays. What sounds right in my head for fiction may do the same for a screenplay. Initially. Then I try it out verbally and it just doesn’t work.

I fell in love with the English origin name Thane recently, but wasn’t sure how it’s pronounced. I wanted it to be pronounced as it looks–th sound and long a. I was afraid it was minus the th sound, so that even a long a couldn’t save it. Thane has an old English, courtly feel to it. My dreaded “Tane” wouldn’t do at all. It would make me think of a Dane, then Hamlet, and ruin the name/character match perfection. Fortunately, thanks to the cyber blessing of a Google search, it didn’t have to and I didn’t have to keep searching. I can’t tell you how disappointed I would have been to abandon the name that goes so perfectly with the character who chose it.

Sometimes it works that way. Sometimes I pore over baby name books or scroll through the names database in Trelby. That’s where I first saw Thane. I grew up in an area where British, Scotch-Irish (like my family) and apparently Welsh people settled in their treks so far west that they crossed an ocean and a good third of a continent, before they felt at home in their new world. There was a woman named Elwyn in my greater (meaning about a three mile radius in a farming area) community, a man named Esbert that was traced back to English nobility, and the mysteriously named neighbor, Mr. Erice. I’ve never figured that one out. It does not help that it’s pronounced Earsss, as if someone saying Ears spoke parseltongue.

So my names pool includes people I’ve known, people I wish I knew (the public figures and celebrities category), and people I’ll never know, like those long dead children whose parents liked big words and lots of them. I saw some names in that last group that immediately went into my mental file system. Exotic beauties such as Lyonella, Lelias, and Avelina. I imagine I’ll steer clear of the atrocities Ethelswytha and Fraudatifilias!

After all, when naming characters one wants to be memorable…but in a good way.

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