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Wriiting Conundrum – Names

Over the last few weeks I have felt compelled to write a short story. All I can think of is the name Meredith. I was curious so I checked the SSA database to see how the popularity of the name had changed over time. (Yes, I can have nerdy tendencies.)

The name Meredith was most popular in 1981. I never knew anyone with this name. I can only think of two celebrities with the name – Meredith Baxter Birney and Merdith MacRae both born in the 1940s.

So why this name? For some unknown and seemingly disconnected reason, I browsed through the short fiction pieces I have posted on my blog this morning. I have used the name Meredith in at least four or five fiction pieces I have written. I find that odd, especially realizing I did not remember ever using the name.

Have you ever experienced something similar? Do the same names, places, or situations frequently surface in your writing? Do you have a mechanism to track characters you write about? I know some writers use spreadsheets. I fear I am not that organized!

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41 thoughts on “Wriiting Conundrum – Names”

  1. I don’t remember character names. I have written several characters with one name in the beginning of the book and a different name at the end. Lucky those goofs were caught.

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  2. I have used the same or similar names for characters in very different stories. For some reason, the plot suggests character names to me, but also the age of the character. For instance, in Britain, ‘Edna’ suggests an older woman. ‘Albert’ is usually associated with an older man.
    I have never used Meredith. The name is rare here, and would not be likely to enter my head.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  3. Meredith is a lovely name, very elegant! I have a weird method for choosing names, so I haven’t used the same one more than once, but there are certain names that I definitely am drawn to. : )

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I thought it odd I did not remember using it, but it still seems to resurface. Your method must work for you!

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  4. Ever use a friend’s name? Maybe a relative’s? could be a nice way to honor/remember/acknowledge them or just to have a bit of fun like making your best friend a real jerk in your story.

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  5. It’s funny, the associations one can have with a name… I saw that you looked up Meredith as a girl’s name, but the first Meredith that comes to my mind is Meredith Rodney McKay (who went by Rodney McKay because he, too, felt that Meredith was a girl’s name), the character from Stargate Atlantis sci-fi show from, well, a long time ago 🙂 And even now, as I’m typing this, I can’t help but recall his antics and smile. Names have a funny way of being “sticky” sometimes, no?

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    1. Interesting observation. Burgess Meredith comes to mind, but no other male associated with the name. I did, indeed, ask for female names only, but went back out of curiosity and asked for male names. There were some, the most popular year being 1941, but even then only .008 percent of males were given that name. Sticky” is a good word to describe it.

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    1. It is cool, John. I don’t know any people named Ethel, although I recall the name being used – Ethel Mertz, Ethel Merman, Ethel Kennedy, “Don’t Look Ethel!”

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  6. Hi, I hopped over here from Ally Bean’s site after reading her responses to your blogging questions. Anyway, I want to comment on this post because I just started to write short stories a couple of years ago (prompted, I think, by the pandemic) and I’ve wondered before where the names of my characters come from. My head, of course, but why that name? Once, in the middle of writing my story, I realized that I had given the two female characters the wrong names. Once I switched them, somehow it just felt better.

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    1. Hi, Janis, and welcome! Names are funny creatures as we write. They must fit the quirks of the character in some way. I understand exactly what you meant by switching the names. Great observation!

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  7. Most of the names I use in my flash fiction posts are pretty common names and I’m sure I’ve used them numerous times in my posts. Have I taken the time to find out which names I’ve used most often? No. But I’m positive I’ve never used Meredith as a female character’s first name.

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  8. As someone alluded, TV shows can give rise to baby’s names so often. My son’s name came from a book I read as a teenager, and I often had to spell it for people, to the point that when he started to talk to adults, he would spell it for people! That is how often I had to spell it. I stopped having to spell it when a TV show came out with a character of that name and it suddenly became really popular a few years later. Did you watch/hear/read anything with Meredith as a character?

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    1. I cannot remember any characters in television, books, or movies with the name Meredith. There is a connection somewhere, but I have yet to discover it.

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  9. I’ve run across a couple of Merediths (not as friends, but names of organizers, etc.) I was rather surprised recently to come across new parents naming their sons Oscar and Omar. Omar was one of my Great -Uncle’s name (and my Granddad’s cat, presumably named after his uncle.) Names are interesting.

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