Character of the Week: Naming General MacArthur

This one threw me for a loop from the git-go.

General MacArthur
Male, born around late-1950s
His daughter, Leah MacArthur (the Main Character), is the most important part of his life. He read the newspaper or files with her every morning, and taught her how to plan military strategies/ track criminals. He’d prefer for Leah to work for the military.
He is a General in the pentagon in charge of homeland security. His main project is tracking extractors, people who kidnap, torture, and kill for information. While his co-workers want to arrest them, the general is more interested in using their torture techniques to create an efficient way to gather military information. He obsesses over one character named Dagger, because he doesn’t follow the patterns the others do and the General thinks he’s infinitely more dangerous, and his techniques more valuable.

Mrs. MacArthur
Female, born 1960s
Her parents were patriotic, still carrying over some hints of the intolerance of the Red Scare into the way they raised her. She was raised in ‘the perfect American Family’ and wants the same for her husband and daughter. Her father worked in the military as an officer (lower than general), and he married her off to another politically powerful family.
She is a stay at home wife, and she dreams of Leah being like her. She works hard to teach Leah how to cook, and tries to get her to act more lady-like. She doesn’t show it publically, but she is intolerant of all things ‘un-American’.

Psychological Thriller

I feel like I have a lot about their characters, and hopefully you can find some names that fit. I’m trying to avoid anything too young-ish.

I think this writer’s focus is all off. Her main interest is in finding names that aren’t too young sounding, while she should be interested in military history.

The first thing I noticed was that the writer had a character named General MacArthur! Now, I’m not a historian or really any better read than most writers, but I know that name! (Same spelling, even!) But this writer’s not writing about that guy, because the timeline is all off.

I would never, ever, suggest anyone one use the name of a well-known historical figure unless they were writing about that figure. Especially in this case, where the story is a military-based thriller filled with educated and well-read characters. I would half expect the daughter to describe her father as “General MacArthur, but not that one. Wink wink, nudge nudge.”

I knew I’d have to address it somehow, but first I had some naming to do. My first search was to see what The General MacArthur’s first name was, and the names of his close relatives. Those names were definitely off the table. Then I did a search of the SSA’s Popular Baby Names. I looked for names that definitely felt middle aged, since that’s what the writer was looking for. I also went with names that felt very American and were very popular and common.

Are you sure you want to give him the name of a well-known historical figure?

  • General Stanley MacArthur
  • General Randall MacArthur
  • General Gerald MacArthur
  • General Kenneth MacArthur
  • General Walter MacArthur
  • Rose MacArthur
  • Joan MacArthur
  • Ruth MacArthur
  • Anne MacArthur
  • Phyllis MacArthur

The writer replied: Haha, I haven’t taken much history yet, so I didn’t even realize I was doing that. I like the name Stanley MacArthur, but I’m not 100% sure I’ll go with it, I may just stick with General MacArthur. As for Mrs. MacArthur, I really like Rose.

I was very disappointed with the way the writer dismissed the historical association. I mean, this is a guy who has a very substantial Wikipedia entry! It really makes me think less of the writer, and less of the writing. More of my thoughts this Wednesday…

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