Archive for June 12th, 2008

Jun 12 2008

What’s in a name? Not certain death (usually)

Published by under Comedy

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

Agent Orange: Greetings, Mammal-Black! I have been erroneously removed from the payroll and this has made me surly. Agent White has claimed that my entry cannot be replaced unless I have a first name distinct from my rank, which has doubly besurlied me.

Agent Black: Well, you do have a first name besides “Agent,” right?

Agent Orange: …

[awkward silence]

Agent Black: Err… do you have a given name? Maybe something other reptiles call you?

Agent Orange: Indeed, Mammal-Black! I am [hiss-hiss-hissssss].

Agent Black: I don’t know if we’ll be able to type that in for your name. I’m not sure how to translate those sounds into English letters.

Agent Orange: It would have a lot of s’s, I imagine.

Agent Black: Does your given name happen to translate into any English words?

Agent Orange: Depending on the context, it can mean either an “accumulation” (as in an addition, prosperity or flowering) or “certain death” (such as an unavoidable mangling or other violent demise).

Agent Black: Here, let me use a thesaurus. Some synonyms for “accumulation” are gain, boon, and benediction. As names, any of those words would be eccentric but definitely workable. Do you like any of them?

Agent Orange: I see. And what are the synonyms for “certain death?”

Agent Black: Uhh… under “certain death”, I see only gain, boon and benedict.

Agent Orange: Most curious! That is surely a sign that the Gator Gods want me to pick one of those three. But what was wrong with “accumulation?” That strikes me as a perfectly acceptable name.

Agent Black: I wouldn’t argue with the Gator Gods on this one.

Agent Orange: Of course not, Mammal-Black! Although I am disappointed that the Gator Gods do not appear to have smiled upon “Accumulation,” or “Mangler” or “Chompy” either, I must admit a certain fondness for “Gain.” There is now only one outstanding problem. Our agency employs two mammals named Gary. Won’t co-workers get confused if our names are similar?

Agent Black: I think our agents will be able to keep track of what every agent brings to the team. When you need a mutated alligator, you need a mutated alligator and not just someone whose name sounds like a mutated alligator’s.

Agent Orange: I find your mammalian logic impeccable.

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