What Is In A Name?

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Yes, yes I know I just quoted Shakespeare. No I'm not going to make a habit of it but that quote was fitting for today's post. I haven't written a discussion post before but I was bored and this just popped into my head, I have a few more lined up too. So what is in a name? Do you think the name of the character can define their personality? Some authors use a characters name as an indication as what their like. We have Jane Eyre - yes I read classics occasionally - who is described as plain and has a plain name but then at the other end of the spectrum there's Jessamine Lovelace (Infernal Devices) who as you've probably guessed from the name is beautiful, so an extravagant name suggests an extravagant person. We all know a know the best writers can make a character with the most ridiculous name seem gorgeous but not all authors can manage it so it sometimes goes very very wrong.

A popular way of naming characters that authors use are nicknames, no not the kind you call them by occasionally, more like permanent nicknames. And it seems the stranger the better, as if all the authors are in a constant competition to give their character the weirdest name but still have people loving them. I mean if you met a guy who introduced himself as Patch or Bones you can't tell me that you wouldn't laugh him out of the room but lovely authors like Jeaniene Frost and Becca Fitzpatrick managed to make these names work. I don't know anyone - who's read Hush Hush - not swoon at the mention of Patch's name. For other authors it just doesn't work an example being Graves from Lili St.Crow's Strange Angel's series. I do love the books but I've never really connected with Graves and his name is one of the reasons. Nicknames must have back stories attached to them, if not it doesn't work!

Do you like last name's used as their main names? The Fever series by Karen Marie Moning uses last names a lot! You have Barrons who goes by his last name; though I can't say I'm not glad. The name Jericho (his first name) is a huge turn off for me. I'm sure it's supposed to come off sexy but, in my opinion, it's not! Then there's Mackayla or as Barrons calls her Miss Lane. So you could say their on last name terms - yes that was my poor attempt of a joke. Tahereh Mafi does a great job of using a last name for a character with Warner. The use of his last name makes him seem as sinister as he is but I really do want to know what his first name is...

Pet names? Some work well whereas others are just embarrassing. In the Night Huntress the use of a pet name works REALLY well. Bones calls Cat Kitten and I think that's sooo sweet! For some it may be sickly but not Bones, he's so badass he could call her something really mushy and it would still be sweet. Remember: "She's my Kitten and no one else's"? I love that quote! A pet name I think doesn't work is in The Iron King, Puck calls Meghan princess, I just hate it. In Unearthly when Tucker calls Clara Carrots... Oh I just love that! Do you like Comrade? Sparky? How about Roza? I think Vampire Academy has the right idea there, now we just need a nickname for my Adrian...

Do strange spellings of words annoy you? Would you take Peeta more seriously if his name was spelled Peter? I love it as Peeta personally but others disagree. Do you like Megan spelled as Meghan? Spellings don't usually bother me but for a lot of people they put them off the story.

Simple names can make boring characters but the best authors can have amazing characters with simple names. Yes of course I'm talking about Cassie Clare, before her the name Will was just boring but now I can't hear the name without my mind rushing back to the dashing William Herondale. Rachel Caine uses simple names for most of her characters with her main heroine being called Claire, first impression a boring girl. Later on you realize that she is in fact a exciting, brave character. Richelle Mead uses names like Rose, Christian, Adrian and every one of her characters is awesome (though I am still angry at Rose and Dimitri!)

INVASION OF THE SH..'S!! You probably have no idea what I'm talking about so I will explain. Have you noticed the amount of main guys in YA books with names starting with Sh? Shane, Shay, Shaun there are multiple amounts of those names, too many! Loads of other names are also way over used; Mason, Cat, etc.

Do unpronounceable names get on your nerves? Someone asks your favorite character and you can't pronounce their name? It happens to me all the time! I can never pronounce things like Rephaim, I mean how are you supposed to pronounce that? Surnames are just as annoying for me. Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy has the most awkward surnames. They seem Russian which is strange since only one is supposed to be Russian. Belikov, Dashkov, Ivashkov. Can't say any of them!

So what do you look for in a name? Simple or unique?
Email me at: confessionsofabookaholic@LIVE.CO.UK

6 People dared to comment.:

Julie said...

Unique for me. :)

Michael Cargill said...

Good topic this actually.

A name like Jessamine Lovelace would probably get on my nerves a bit, but it sounds like the sort of name that would appear in a novel I wouldn't like anyway.

I have read some sci-fi books that had some really annoying names like San'Shyuum and even worse ones than that.

To be honest I often find myself getting names mixed up. The Millenium Trilogy (as in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) is bad for this.

Emily said...

I haven't read that series yet but I heard it was good

Michael Cargill said...

It's quite good but far from outstanding.

The first book is by far the best and has the most interesting storyline.

Mango said...

WOW! When i saw you drafting this in H/S, i didn't realize how awesome and relate-able this would be!
I'm personally not a big fan of pet names, however I like the use of nicknames. Weird, huh?
Any, yet again good work!

Anonymous said...

Great discussion :)
I don't like the use of last names, I think that should be reserved for classics only. Like you, names that I can't pronounce really irritate me! Also what Michael said above, I hate it when author's make names too similar that you get confused, it can lead my many mindboggling moments!

For me personally, I have no problems with just a simple, normal name. :)

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