Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Novelty Names

When I was a kid and read a book with a difficult character name…I would inevitably break it down, sound it out and try to decipher the correct pronunciation before continuing. Only to find out later, I was entirely wrong.

Now I don’t have the patience for it. My husband and I have an unspoken agreement that anyone’s name we cannot pronounce or we forget are automatically called Bob until such a time as it becomes important enough to actually learn it (such as marrying into the family, etc).

I use the same method when I read a novel. I’m all for the unusual and unique but please consider the reader before naming your main character a 14 letter mashup of the Latin phrase ‘to defeat evil with good’. It’s irritating and you will lose the reader before he’s had a chance to be captured by your awesome story.

As a side note, try not to have all your character names begin with the same letter either. Take it from me…until you make a list you might never realize your secret obsession with the letter R, for example.

Not that I would know.


  1. I'm reading Lord of the Rings and *generally* don't have a problem, but every time he says "Ephel Dúath" (which happens a lot, since they are in Mordor now) I get hung up trying to decide which syllable gets the emphasis.

  2. So that's why you're always leaving comments on my blog that begin "Nice post, Bob."

  3. If I can't pronounce a character's name, it bugs me. If can hear my voice tripping over itself in my head every time I see the unpronounceable name, it's the most distracting thing ever!

    And for some reason, I have an obsession with character names that start with M. My last WIP was full of them! Morris, Marianne, Michael, Mae, Monroe, Matt... hmmm. Maybe that's why I come here, MARSHA.

  4. That character name with the same letter thing.. yeah. I confess. Guilty. :) If I'm writing contemporary, it's always J. TOO MANY Js!


It helps to know I'm not just talking to myself.