Why have a section on Name?

bryony 4 vertBeing a writer, I know how important it is to settle on the right name for a character. I think the names we are given shape who we are, though writers have an advantage over parents: we already know, or partly know, the personality of our characters and so can use a name to convey further the traits of that character. For my first novel, The China Bird, the names just presented themselves and were never changed, but for my novel in progress, I am struggling to name my main protagonist. I am already on my third name: Faye, Lorna and now Helen, and I'm still not sure if I'm going to stick with Helen. I don't think the novel will come good until I have found a name for this character. Does my lack of a settled name bode ill? - It don't think so. 'She' is a very vivid character, even though she has not yet been baptised, so to speak.


Throughout my life, when I have told people my name,I have usually had to pronounce it for them several times, and they say -'That's a strange name, where's it from?'

So, I thought I'd share with some of what I've learnt about my name and the reason I was given it.  

About Bryony

Bryony was, when I was named, a very rare female first name. It is derived from the name of a climbing plant that attaches itself to other plants by means of tendrils.
The girl's name Bryony is pronounced BRY-o-nee. It is of Greek origin, and its meaning is 'climbing plant'.
Three species of Bryony are found in Europe, Asia & North Africa. They have been subject to some discussion in plant literature from an early mis-identification by some botanists. All have a similar climbing habit.
• Black Bryony - (Tamus communis L.) has yellow-green flowers and red fruit. 
• White Bryony - (Bryonia alba L.) has white flowers and black berries, and was also known as English Mandrake but it is not native to the U.K. 
• White Bryony - (Bryonia cretica L. ssp. dioica Tutin) also known as Red Bryony, dioecious, has white flowers and red berries.

The Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants – by Charles Darwin

Darwin seems to have been fascinated by the tendrils of the White Bryony plant:
"A far more important service rendered by the spiral contraction of the tendrils is that they are thus made highly elastic. The strain is thus distributed equally between the several attached branches; and this renders the whole far stronger than it otherwise would be, as the branches cannot break separately. It is this elasticity that protects both branched and simple tendrils from being torn away from their supports during stormy weather. I have more than once gone on purpose during a gale to watch a Bryony growing in an exposed hedge, with its tendrils attached to the surrounding bushes; and as the thick and thin branches were tossed to and fro by the wind, the tendrils, had they not been excessively elastic, would instantly have been torn off and the plant thrown prostrate. But as it was, the Bryony safely rode out the gale, like a ship with two anchors down, and with a long range of cable ahead to serve as a spring as she surges to the storm."

Why I was named Bryony

To be continued ....