Friday, June 10, 2011

Honeypie, sugarbunch...


We all have nicknames. Well, maybe not all of us, but many of us do. Sometimes they're a shortened version of our name or a special endearment used by our significant other or friends. "Cari" is actually a nickname for my full name that a friend gave me in junior high and it sort of stuck. And "Quinn" is also derivative of a nickname my mom gave me as a child. When I picked a penname, I wanted a name I would answer to but one that also had personal meaning. Names are important, and so are the pet names we give those we love.

But sometimes readers get annoyed with the nicknames we give our characters. My CP Taryn enjoyed a novella recently, but hated the hero's nickname for the heroine, which was an endearment in another language. I've seen people complain that certain pet names have been overused in a story. How many "darling"s can you read before your grimace meter goes off? Apparently everyone has a different threshold.

Me, I love nicknaming characters. But it's a fine line. Used sparingly, I think they enhance the relationship between the hero/heroine (or hero/hero or hero/hero/heroine, pick your poison.) Use them too much and your readers may growl.

Some of my favorite nicknames in stories I've read…

Marc calling Sabrina "Seattle" in Anything You Want by Erin Nicholas

Flynn calling Laurel "Sub Shop Girl" in Willing Victim by Cara McKenna

Bones (*swoon*) calling Cat "Kitten" in the Night Huntress Series

And right now, my favorite nickname I've used in one of my books is "Blondie." Cale calls Marcia that in Need Me, an upcoming book in my Unveiled series at Ellora's Cave, and it's just…hot. Well, at least to me!

Why do these particular nicknames work for me? In the case of the first two, they're different from the usual and mean something specific to the characters. In the third example, Bones is such a rough around the edges character at first that his calling Cat Kitten softens him. Plus Kitten just pushes my buttons in all the right ways. Maybe because I'm a cat person…? Anyway, I melt a little whenever he calls her that. And I find Blondie hot because Cale's so appreciative of everything about Marcia, right down to her hair color.

Now it's your turn. Do you like using nicknames for your characters or reading them in stories? What are some of your least/most favorite nicknames? And do you have a special nickname you're willing to share?

8 comments:

Mia Watts said...

I'm a big one for nicknames. They just kind of happen. I have a friend named Chris, that I often call Chris-ly. I have another one, Linda, that I usually call Linda-lady. Another Cindy from Texas, Cindy-Bob (inside joke). I also call my girls a ton of unusual things, because the usual endearments are too common. I've kind of forgotten how jarring they can be to others when I use them in public.

But of those, I have, Squid (because she's too small to be an octopus but has her hands in everything). Kumquat, P, Mack, Gibbs (those last two for the older one who is very serious and into discovering things CSI/NCIS references), Peaches, Snicklefritz, Ratzenfras, and any number of things.

In my books, yeah, the weird continues. See She's Got Balls (Resplendence) to see what I mean. I think there's one point in there where the snarky one called the other hugely muscled cop "meat locker". FUN book to write!

Mia Watts said...

Although, I will say, I hate it when characters use endearments from another language tacked on to English. DRIVES ME NUTS! Sounds pompous and and and and pretentious to me. Cara, Carino, etc ick ick ick.

anny cook said...

Unless the hero's first language is not English. Then it's okay.

Call my grandkids Squirrel and Buzzard...

Harlie Reader said...

I like nicknames for characters. I tend to think its a term of endearment for the character and shows a bit of their personality.

On the personal front, I have never had a nickname because my name is so weird and unusual, why invent something else. Plus, people still butcher my name, so when they do, its my nickname for the moment.

Harlie Reader said...

Sorry, but I hate when my MIL calls my son Babo. I absolutely hate that and when I talked to my hubby about it, he's response to me was, she has done that with all of her grandchildren. I think its stupid. My son has a name and its Brian, not Babo. We, his parents, don't even have a nickname for him.

Sorry for the rant.

Dragon Lady said...

I love nicknames. It means the person who came up with it has taken the time to see something special inside. The nick name is something no one else will call them. LOVE it especially when in a menage, both men come up with a different nick for the lady.

Hubby and I call each other baby a lot of the time. He also calls me Mama, and I call him Dada. ;) What can I say...we have 4 kids! LOL!! Speaking of the kids... Oldest has a few nicknames, with the most often called is ZB, short for her name of Zarahbeth. I even call her Zeeboo. Next up: Naomi is often called Mini Me. Of my 4 girls, she is the ONLY one who I can not deny is mine! Dark brown hair, hazel eyes, and looks so much like me when I was her age!!!!! We also call her Nomer or Nomster. Then, Haley. Blondie is her most often used nickname. She has blond hair, of course. I also call her Scooby. Her fave cartoon when younger was of course, Scooby Doo. Last but not least, is Amber. I have called her either Boo or Moo since she was born. NO idea why, they just stuck.

Mr Lonely said...

nice blog... have a view of my blog when free.. http://www.lonelyreload.com .. do leave me some comment / guide if can.. if interested can follow my blog...

Eileen said...

I've read some good ones in books but the one that drove me crazy was when the hero called his heroine hot stuff. UGH! I like baby doll and sugar and of course darling.
I think each one of us in our family has a nickname due to some reason and they've stuck. Nothing mean but always endearing to my heart.