Monday, August 19, 2013

Writing 101: Crazy Character Names

Scarlett is one of those great, unique character names that stands out. But it's also a color and a decently recognizable word. Other character names are much more unusual, inventive...and sometimes, borderline psychotic. Crazy character names just aren't often a good idea, and forgive me if that word is a bit offensive. But honestly, can you find a better descriptor for names like Sookie Stackhouse, Ever Bloom and Midshipman Hornblower?


Name That Character

I didn't make up those examples above; other authors did. I'm not the most well-traveled girl in the world, but I haven't ever met anyone named Sookie or Ever. Good character names are memorable, and the really weird ones always are. But good character names should also be easy to pronounce. Otherwise, you're just going to have readers stumbling over their own tongues when they attempt to describe your book to others. It seems like a small point, but if your book is difficult to describe verbally you're shooting yourself in the foot. Word-of-mouth is still by and large the greatest advertising tool for any product, including yours. 

You want your names to be memorable, easy to pronounce and easy to spell. Why? Because everyone's on Twitter and writing in blogs, and if they misspell your character name would-be readers won't find your book and they'll go buy someone else's book and that's your fault...that's why.

If you've got those three things covered, you're in pretty decent shape...but that still leaves the door really wide open for an array of weird names. Crazy made-up names or otherwise odd-sounding names put a unique stamp on your book. Maybe too unique. The really strange names turn readers off and end up becoming the butt of jokes in blog posts like this one. So think it over. Crazy character names have their place...not always in your books.

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