Wednesday 21 July 2021


 Authors often have quite a thing about names - a character with the wrong name, especially if it is hero or heroine, can throw the whole thing off. Weird, but there you are. 

Names are one thing, but I have been thinking about what comes before the name. I began to ponder it when my new energy provider addressed me in an e-mail by my first name. Chummy and all that, but I wasn't sure that I approved. I can be old fashioned like that, and I am employing them! It started me thinking. The optician always calls me Ms. Wareham. The doctor varies - Ms. in correspondence, first name in person. The university it's always Dr. Wareham. 

It can be a small but important detail when you are writing. My heroine in A Villa in Portofino has a PhD and as much of the book is set in Italy - who would have guessed - where I understand there is more formality over this sort of thing, I have scattered Dotoressa around liberally. Maybe too liberally. My editor will not doubt tell me. I was reading a crime novel recently - can't remember title unfortunately - where a particularly unpleasant and supercilious type kept putting the female police officer in her place by referring to her as Miss, instead of by her rank. 

I remember while I was growing up all the neighbours were referred to as Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Smith even when they were friends and spent long times on the doorstep gossiping. Tradespeople and shop keepers then would certainly not use first names. Worth recalling if you are writing "Historical". Although I do not see how something that I remember can be historical!!!!!

It's a small thing, but worth thinking about for subtlety and for the reader to appreciate that the writer knows how things were done in the past. 

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