I asked with a bit of suspicion in my voice, “Is your name really Robert?”
“Nah, I go by Robbie,” his weak, despondent voice said.
I laughed, perhaps a bit loudly, which is my norm. “I knew it! You are soooo not a Robert! Have they been calling you Robert the whole three weeks you have been here?”
He laughed breathlessly, clearly he had a weakened diaphragm. “Ya, I couldn’t talk when I first came in, and I never corrected them. I figured they won’t remember me anyway.”
Well he was wrong. I fixed the white board. And I remember.
I remember seeing him the next week being machine lifted out of bed for the first time, and being so overwhelmed at the mini-miracle I was witnessing, that I played the theme song from ROCKY. (Da dadada, dada da da da, dada daaaaa, dada daaaaaa, dada daaaaaa….” (You heard it in your head, right??) Seeing his hands barely making fists and weakly lifting off the pillow to try to punch my opposite fisted hands in rhythm to the music was true joy.
I remember a few weeks later, being the charge nurse and watching his bed being wheeled out, after weeks in the ICU, and completely stopping rounds (yes, asking doctors, surgeons, pharmacists, and social workers all to wait) as he was finally being transferred to rehab. I threw on the ROCKY music again, and his arms were able to fully reach mine as he punched to the rhythm again and every other nurse his bed passed as he graduated from the unit. Yes, I remember.
Well, I think Robbie remembered too, not the ICU satay, but rather the day he chose to be Robbie again. He dug deep and found his inner character and punched life right back. What if the accident changed him, changed his bad-a$$ “Robbie” character, into a stiff “Robert”. One who blended with the rest, who didn’t stand out in the crowd? But no, he chose, in his “Robbie” sort of way, to make his misfortune, his bit_h. (Sorry for the swearing, I had to stay in character when talking about him).
As an author of Christian Romance and Historical Regency Romance, I must do the same. Each character I choose must have a name that carries with it a history that is not written in the words I write. I must be able to tell about the character without actually saying it. For example, I saw what Robbie’s hat and goatee looked like, and I knew he was not a Robert.
There is, however, something I hope to have found, that I am doing in my next book due to come out in May 2018 that I hope will be successful. It is doing the opposite of what I just said. I have chosen a name that is an antonym to my character.
The book is titled, Buying the Duke’s Silence. Now, this is the second book in the Ladies of Inspiration series, the first one was Inspired by Grace, published about 2 years ago. There was a secondary character in it named, Kenneth Silence. I found I was not the only one enamored with him; my readers were too. So I decided he would be the next hero in the series. The Heroine will end up hiring the assistance of the Duke’s friend, Silence . . . who really isn’t all that silent. Thus the title, Buying the Duke’s Silence.
Mrs. Halliburton greeted him first. “Oh, Mr. Silence! How delighted I am that you have come. We have many young ladies in attendance whom I know would love to hear the tales you spin. Our gathering would not have been the same if you had not attended.” Her sincerity was a reprieve from most of the ton.
“Please, Mrs. Halliburton. Just call me Silence. Mr. Silence was my father, God rest his soul, but I should hate to be mistaken for him. Not to mention that I dearly hope my father’s soul stays at rest––with no chance of return––from wherever that may be . . .” He then winked at her.
She let out a genuine laugh that brought a sparkle to her eyes, and her matronly belly shook in a way that most ladies of society would have been repulsed by. “Of course, Silence, but I always find it such a contrasting name to your character. For anyone who knows you, knows that silence is the first thing that leaves the room once you enter!”
He bowed and kissed her hand and wiggled his eyebrows flirtatiously. “And that, is the beauty of my name.”
She blushed brightly, “Indeed, please go enliven the drawing room. You will find several beauties you are already acquainted with.”
Kenneth pretended to be disappointed. “Well that has no draw for me.”
If it was possible for a lady who had to be nearing forty to giggle, she did. “You are such a dandy. Very well, go procure someone to introduce you to those you do not know. I shall welcome the last of my guests and will soon follow.”
Kenneth winked again to her, thinking to himself, challenge accepted.
Now there is one more thing that I wanted to point out in naming a character. A name, is usually not enough. When I begin to roll around a plot for a book, I literally describe that person’s flaws, talents, and personal habits, their idiosyncrasies, and their tone of voice, their manner of walking, and their inner moral platforms. Most Christian Regency Romance readers, prefer a man who has moral character, not a sex god or someone who has a “manhood” that can only be described with the same words others use to describe the seven wonders of the world. Don’t get me wrong, there seems to be a market for those characters, but it is not my market. Nevertheless, a true hero must not simply have morals, but depth too. They have to be interesting––not just interested.
So here is my further attempt to introduce my hero’s character of Buying the Duke’s Silence, as being interesting:
He entered the room, appearing to scan like all other socialites, nodding greetings and acknowledging those whom he must.
Three men had canes, another carried a dress sword on his right hip, but the way he slouched to the side as if it was too heavy, meant the sword was only for looks and Kenneth assumed he did not know how to use it. There was another gentleman with his back to him and there was a suspicious bulge that could be a pistol. He would have to keep an eye on him.
There were two exits both on the east, one of which he just had entered from. The bookshelf may possibly have a trap door, for there was newer marble carved moldings in the center shelves that was a slightly different grain than the pillars in the center of the room.
He didn’t mean to survey a room in this manner but knowing the potential perils, the obstacles, the room layout, and the tools at his disposal were part of his job. He had to know who were the men he could trust, and who he could not.
I have challenged myself to choose to handle life’s trials, illnesses, accidents, and villains, by continuing to deepen my character. I also am challenging myself to never let others try to redefine who I am, and I especially refuse to be told who I should be, simply because I never spoke up. So introduce your inner character in any way you wish. You are the writer.
Jeanna Ellsworth Lake