Whatsserface and Whosits

Friday, August 26, 2005

There's a thread going on over on AAR, What's in a name, where folks are discussing character names that turn them off, or don't make sense, or whatever. I've seen this type of conversation pop up time and again and always read them--particularly if someone is rather vehement--with a slightly bewildered feeling.

As a writer, I *have* to get the characters' names right. Sometimes I can't even write the first sentence until the names are fixed for my hero/heroine. Sometimes a name will show up, that I'll know it's not the right one, but it'll do until the character tells me his/her proper name. It matters.

As a reader? Not so much. I couldn't care less if the character shares the same name of a two-timing ex, or a relative, or pet, or hated boss. And if you throw something like Bhrwoitgf at me, I'll just decide it's pronounced Beer-wot and keep reading.

Now, if in your Regency, you name your Duke hero, L'Rhell-Shaunathan, or have a Lady Laqueesha running around, it'll give me pause ::snort::, but if I'm enjoying the book, I'll keep reading. While some anachronisms will throw me, name choice normally won't.

What about you guys? Are you like me and couldn't care less? Or do you have your pet bugaboos?
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Bernita said...

I think like you I tend to shrug and go on, unless the writer seems to be trying too hard. A name that's a combination of consonants is a little difficult to relate to though, since a name is a useful character tool.And some get pitifully obvious - such as Desiree.
David Eddings in the Belgariad cycle of tales made excellent use of name resonance in my opinion.

raine said...

'Lady Laqueesha' in a Regency?!

Generally, I don't much care. If the story's enthralling, I'll keep reading regardless...
(must confess to one pet peeve, however...I'm not big on heroes named Jim Bob or Bobby Joe, etc...the 'countrified' connotations don't work for me).

Danica said...

Usually, I could care less. But I think Lady Laqueesha would just about kill me. LOL. If it's a really weird looking name, I would probably have a hard time with it until I figured out how to pronounce it. I love Robin Owens's Celta books, but some of the names really drove me nuts (until I asked her the proper way to pronounce them, she told me, and then all was fine). So I guess, if you have to have a weird name, at least put in a pronounciation key. :)

Jordan Summers said...

I giggle over some of the heroes names I've read, but not enough to knock me out of the story. (ie Thunder, Storm (kind of like that one) Bolt, Wolf, Danger, Sin, etc.)

Silma said...

Vanessa - I agree with you in that I need to have a feel for the character names. Come up with one that I can say "Yes! That's perfect for him/her." If I don't, somehow I can't seem to write at all.

Jordan - hey! Don't laugh. I've thought of naming my kids Eagle Song, Raven Dance, Thunder, Stormer, etc. Sorry, I don't like common names like Dick and Jane. Ugh!

Anonymous said...

As a guy.. names have to be easy to sound out... otherwise I lose interest.

Carol B. said...

For me it depends on the character. For instance, I would probably snicker at a beta hero named Wolf or Storm. He'd have to be alpha, or it would seem silly. The same goes for certain female names. Sophie, Haley or Cilla just don't sound like kick ass heroines, but Skyler, Nicole, and Ava have possibilities.

Annalee Blysse said...

Sound is important to me. Some sounds just don't go well together to me. That's a personal preference thing because we all "listen" differently to language.

Hey... I see that's important to someone else here. David Eddings does have good resonance.

Sela Carsen said...

I just don't like names that are so character resonant that I feel like I'm being hit over the head every time I read them. Stone, Razor, Lobo, etc. Yeah. I get it already. He's The Man.

Michelle said...

I love finding different and unique names, but it has to ring true with me. As for reading them, if I like the character enough, I can overlook the name.

Jaye said...

Thanks guys for sharing your views. The one thing I did notice is that none of you said you'd stop reading because you just couldn't handle a name (for whatever reason) even if you found that name particularly irksome.

If a name holds extra resonace, or symbolism, that's just the icing on the cake for me; besides, one person's resonance, is another person's 'obvious' or 'blugeoning'. :-P

lol. Dude.

Now, Vee, if I came across a Billy-bob, it would probably be in a small town/country set book. Or a quirky story, so it wouldn't turn me off.

I just makeup something for those unprouncable names. Sometimes I find myself doing the equivalent of 'whitenoise' when I come across those names. Like those old time novels where Mr B___ accosted Miss M___.

Jordan - Yes, Wolfe, Storm, etc will get a chuckle out of me. And I'll admit that there's been times from *reading the blurb* that I've not bothered with the book when I see names like this, but if I've already bought the book, then there's was probably something more compelling about the story/characters that I could overlook the 'dramatic' names.

Carol - But the 'opposite' name could work beautiful. Isn't Indiana Jones really Henry Jones (and Indiana the name of the family dog? gg) And then there's Wesley Wyndam-Pryce from ANGEL. A real stuffy by the book guy when he first appeared on BUFFY, then--OMG what an amazing character arc!--look at the dark, hard man he became by the end of ANGEL. Of course they were all calling him Wes, by then. But still....

If I came across an unusual name that didn't ring true, I'd let it slide if I was enjoying the story. If the story had already hit a number snags for me, though, Lady Laqueesha showing up would probably have me putting the book down in disgust. Not because of the name, only because it was the last straw in a string of problems.

One of the things I really liked about the last novella i read, 'Whispers in the Dark', was the h/H's names: Joan and Roger. Who the heck names their hero Roger? Especially if he's one of those Devil Earls --a dark and dangerous rake barely toterated by the ton except for his great wealth and lineage. But the names worked beautifully for me. The very plainess of the names made them unusual for me.

I guess I'm just really soft on names. The things that really take me out of a story, like voice, pacing, ect, are what I'm more hard assed on.

Again, thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. :-)

Amie Stuart said...

Laquisha Tiffany yeah they'd bother me but not enough to make me stop reading. Jake is a no-no name for very personal reasons. I'll never have a character named Jake--but if I did, I'd kill him off, painfully and gleefully. It just makes me roll my eyes

The only one I can abide is Steph's Jake *g*

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