Nicknames

I like nicknames.  I use them in my stories for different reasons.  Everyone in real life uses nicknames for their friends and family, so incorporating them for your characters gives them that instant “real-life” feel.

Sometimes, too, it helps develop a culture.  In Dragon, my elves think it is disrespectful to use someone’s full name without their permission, so everyone in that book has a nickname.  (And by everyone, I mean everyone.) This even becomes a point of mild conflict, mirroring a larger culture difference, because the dragons believe it is disrespectful to use anything other than an individual’s full name.

I use a lot of nicknames for my pets, too.  Eli (my dog) has recently been called Beast, Beastie, Mutt, Mutthead, and Dog.  He’s got old nicknames, too, that don’t get used as much now.  These include Trouble, Trouble-Dog, Skinny Dog, Wrinkle-Dog, Mr. Wrinkles, and Muttface.  The bird has fewer, but he’s been in my life a shorter time.  I do call him Monster, Little Bird, Bird, and BatMax (when he’s hanging upside-down).  I am less specific with nicknames for friends and family, although I would like to take credit for my sister’s most oft used nickname.  I pointed out as a child that her initials spelled a name, and that name stuck!  (In an effort to preserve my secret identity, I will not reveal that name, as it will give you the first initial of my real last name.)

It’s fun to think of nicknames for characters, since the hard part (giving them a real name) is done.  The easiest way to do it is to imagine that you are friends with them and have to use their name over and over.  What would you end up calling them?  That’s the best nickname for them, the one that would come naturally out of the use of their name.

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