Do you remember the Bob Newhart Show? I don’t mean the one where he’s a psychologist in Chicago in the 1970s, but the one where he runs an inn in Vermont in the 1980s. He has those neighbors, “I’m Larry. This is my brother Daryl, and this is my other brother Daryl.” My dad loved that show, so of course I did too.
I’m in the process of naming (and renaming) some characters in my WIP, and I was thinking about names that come from certain eras. Like the name Daryl, for instance. I went to high school with a lot of guys named Daryl. Wrestlers, mathletes, band guys, cowboys, all manner of Daryls.
However, now that I’m easing out of the baby-naming years, I realized I don’t know anyone at all in my generation or younger who is naming a child Daryl. The ladies who wrote “Beyond Jennifer and Jason” would say it’s in “fashion limbo,” I imagine. It’s not being used for girls or for boys by anyone in my circles of acquaintance, despite the fact that there was that gorgeous actress from Splash named Daryl Hannah. The name didn’t seem to make that boy-name-to-girl-name crossover like so many other names (Taylor, Dakota, etc.)
Names sometimes have an era. Not all. Some are more timeless. But a lot of them have an era. So when I’m writing a story, I think it’s important for me to choose names for the characters that reflect the age or era in which they might have been born. I’ve often picked up a story with a historical setting but the character has a super-modern trendy name and it’s off-putting. Sometimes it bumps me out of the story so much I have to put the book down.
So, yeah. Back to work on the WIP, galley slave. Maybe I’ll name someone Larry…
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