Friday, June 10, 2011
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?