Day 15: Rue

When I began my WIP, the protagonist’s name was Rue. I chose it because I liked it and because it was a bit out of the ordinary. Not as original, perhaps, as Scarlett, Scout, Sherlock, or Heathcliff–but a name readers might remember.

About the second paragraph, trouble arose. Rue gave in to melancholy.

She worried.

She sighed.

She moped.

She moaned.

She lamented, repented, and repined.

Everything she said required employment of a semicolon.

If I hadn’t kept an eye on her, she’d have donated her tee-shirt and cutoffs to Goodwill and donned sackcloth and ashes.

After conspiring in her misery for several chapters, I finally stepped back and asked why the woman so lively and vivacious in my imagination had fallen into despair the moment she hit the page.

She told me, in no uncertain terms, that the problem was all mine. I’d been reading too much. Every time I wrote her name, I thought of poor, mad Ophelia, passing out wildflowers before floating down the stream to her death.

There’s fennel for you,and columbines:
There’s rue for you; and here’s some for me:…
O you must wear your rue with a difference.

And the poor Shropshire Lad, remembering.

With rue my heart is laden
For golden friends I had,
For many a rose-lipt maiden
And many a light-foot lad.

By brooks too broad for leaping
The light-foot boys are laid;
The rose-lipt maids are sleeping
In fields where roses fade.

I had named her Rue, after the flower symbolizing regret. How could I expect her to be lighthearted?

She was right.

So I renamed her Molly, and she’s been a live wire ever since.


William Shakespeare, Hamlet, IV.v, @

A. E. Housman, ‘”With rue my heart is laden,” @



4 thoughts on “Day 15: Rue

  1. What a difference a name makes! I’ll swear my children’s names have had a bearing on who they have become. I am glad Molly has found herself. Tennysonian angst is very becoming, I’m sure, but it’s no fun at the top of that tower:-)

    Really great post, Kathy.


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