Creative Writing Day 28 – What’s in a name?

So, you know when Juliet stands at the balcony and speaks to a (still imaginary) Romeo?

I say imaginary, because she doesn’t yet know that he is actually listening, hidden between the bushes of the garden.

Anyway, there’s a much important question she asks and that is: “What’s in a name?”

Photograph by aling_
Photograph by aling_

Well, of course, what we call with the name of ‘rose’ surely would hold the same sweet fragrance if we called it, say, ‘corpetalia’. However.

If you are a writer, it doesn’t work that way.

In a very personal and subjective way, if you are a writer, ‘rose’ is a lovely flower, of warm coloured petals, and rich with thorns. Its name is rose and has to be.

In the same personal and subjective way, if you are a writer, ‘corpetalia’ is probably something that has to do with pimples and hospitals. There’s no flower in there. Not even the fragrance.

I say ‘personal’ and ‘subjective’ because every writer sees something different in a ‘rose’ or in a ‘corpetalia’ (or some ‘corpetalia’). But still. Writers SEE. They don’t INVENT. Ask anyone.

So it happens that if you take one random name, there’s only a limited journey a writer imagination can make, because everything is already in that name.

Today, I’m here to demonstrate. Here’s the prompt:

Pick a random name (if you don’t have a random generator, you can combine Your-First-Pet’s-Name+The-First-Road-You-Lived-On). Take 10 minutes write about the character.

Being that I already used the combination (Milu St. Marguerite, a well-known and successful lawyer), I opened the random name generator. Then, because I know I have a disturbing tendency to write about male characters, I chose the female name.

She is JULIE THOMPSON and this is what I see behind her name.

Julie opened her eyes. It was only three in the morning. Who the hell could be calling on her landline at that hour? Except she knew who that was.

“Mum, are you all right?”

“It’s the cat. I’m sure Polly is gone,” her mother replied hurriedly. The implicit request was for Julie to go over there and deal with the tragedy.

“Calm down, mum,” she said, “where’s dad?”

A short silence, before the answer: “He’s sleeping.”

Of course he wasn’t. “Is he there with you? Can I talk to him?”

A sigh, then: “He’s in the garden, I’m sure I saw Polly under the hedge. He’s being such a darling checking it for me.”

“Mum,” Julie interrupted, just like the doctor had said, repeating her name or her role, so to keep her anchored to reality. “Mum, Polly never leaves the house. How did she get out, she couldn’t.”

Another short silence, then the reply: “Yes. Yes, you’re right of course.”

Silence. Then the voice of Julie’s father announced his approach and soon enough she could hear the noise of the receiver being passed on.

“Sweetheart?” her father said. “Go back to sleep, everything is all right.”

The same words he always used. Julie had even stopped listening to them. Instead, she listened to the heavy tone of his voice, and with that bearing heavy on her chest, she went back to bed.

This is my Julie Thompson. It was nice to meet her.


Please note that what is written here is my humble opinion of writer myself. There might be writers around the globe who strongly disagree.

Personally, I would like to meet them. It would be great if I could finally start INVENTING my stories, instead of reporting what I merely see.


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