Sep 9 2010

Devil’s Claw

Melissa Crytzer Fry

Tell me … at first glance, what do you think this is?

When we first purchased our property in rural southern Arizona in 2004 (me and hubby), we found these odd-looking twiggy-looking “hooks” all over our property. A friend once glued them to a board and drew a face around them. They suddenly transformed into the pincers of a prehistoric insect.

This hook-like claw is revealed after the pretty flowering plant (seen below) blooms. Click to enlarge.

Indeed, these ‘claws’ have a primordial feel to them. In actuality, they come from the lovely plant at the bottom of this post (photo by Kathy Becraft). They are called Devil’s Claw… So our first instinct to deem these foreign objects as “sinister” was shared by someone else, at least – some botanist who had the same creepy feeling when naming them.

For Writers: What’s in a name, anyway? The name “Devil’s Claw” conjures all kinds of feelings – foreboding, pain, evil. When you’re naming your characters, or even the towns they live in, the streets they roam, the names of their pets … are you thinking about the impact those names will have? Do they fit the personality type, the setting, the book’s theme?

When reading an excellent novel recently by Teri Coyne (The Last Bridge), I realized how fitting the main character’s name was to her personality, her past. “Cat” Rucker. Doesn’t that sound like a tough-as-nails name? You learn that Cat is a nickname winnowed down from the full name “Alexandra” to “Ally” to “Alley Cat,” and finally to “Cat.” Without spoiling anything, I will just say that it’s a perfect name for this character. (And the plot, characters, storyline … riveting!)

When selecting your character’s names, give them some serious consideration. Even the way the name rolls off the tongue has some appeal to readers. And in some instances, names may have hidden historic or spiritual significance. Never underestimate the power of a name!


2 Responses to “Devil’s Claw”

  • avatar Rachna Chhabria Says:

    I love to name my characters. Plenty of thought goes into it. For the book I am currently working on, I went for strange and funny names that suited the character image I had in my mind. I enjoyed it a lot.

    Melissa..we are indeed thinking along the same lines. I had blogged about this some time back.

    Thanks for the wonderful picture of the Devil’s Claw. Though I had heard about it, I had never seen it.

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  • avatar Melissa Says:

    Thank you, Rachna. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in my writing quest – and that my ‘writer’s mind’ mirrors another’s. I look forward to reading your character naming post!

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