Welcome! Like the book of the same name, this blog is an eclectic collection of Sherlockian scribblings based on more than a half-century of reading Sherlock Holmes. Please add your own thoughts. You can also follow me on Twitter @DanAndriacco and on my Facebook fan page at Dan Andriacco Mysteries. You might also be interested in my Amazon Author Page. My books are also available at Barnes & Noble and in all main electronic formats including Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iBooks for the iPad.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What's in a Name?

As a fiction writer, I work hard to try to create names that fit my characters. My notebook has lists of first names, last names, and complete names to use in future stories.

Arthur Conan Doyle must have gone through something similar. We've probably all seen the page of his notebook where he originally sketched out his novel about "Sherrinford Holmes" and "Ormond Sacker" before settling on Sherlock and Watson.

The Holmes canon is replete with excellent names. Whether good guys, bad guys, or something in between, they all seem appropriately named. The Hound of the Smiths just wouldn't sound quite so Gothic, would it?

Names are especially important when it comes to villains. When Holmes faces the likes of Jephro Rucastle, Charles Augustus Milverton, Baron Gruner, and Dr. Grimesby Roylott, we know he has a worthy opponent. And doesn't the name Moriarty just pulse with evil?

But wait! Which came first - the chicken (character) or the egg (name). Doesn't the name Moriarty carry devilish overtones only because we associate that name with Holmes's unforgettable arch-enemy?

Think of James Bond. To most of us, that moniker is derring-do personified. But, as you may know, Ian Fleming borrowed the name from that of an American ornithologist (author of Birds of the West Indies) precisely because it struck him as "the dullest name I ever heard." No one else has considered that name dull for more than half a century now!

Names do matter, and so I'll continue to spend a lot of time making my names match the characters who wear them. But creating a good character comes first.

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