Monday, October 20, 2014

Writing 101: The 5 Character Names All Writers Should Avoid

In fiction, certain names have associations that you just can't shake. No YA author can include a "Bella" in their book, for example, and if you throw a "Romeo" out there it's just going to be a distraction. Some names have a deeper meaning and a preexisting link to another literary project. That's why you should avoid those names altogether.

Betty and Veronica 

There are many, many names that are probably a bad idea when it comes to writing fiction. After all, Dagmar is a name. But when it comes to naming characters, be sure to avoid these 5: 

  • Mary Sue: The name Mary Sue has become an archetype, rather than a real person. When a character is a Mary Sue, he or she unwittingly saves the day by being clever and good. It's a plot device, and it generally doesn't work.
  • Damien: Blame it on the movies. This isn't even a literary name, but it does immediately alert the audience that this is an evil character. The name is really over-used, and attaching this name to an evil character is really over-done.
  • Judas: One of the most famous names of all time, Judas has come to be much more than a name. It means betrayal, and everyone knows it. So if you use this name, you're telling your readers the entire plot of your book.
  • Adolf: Too much historical significance. No one uses this name.
  • Hermione: J.K. Rowling ruined it for everybody. You can't think of this name without thinking of Emma Watson, and believe me no one else can do it, either.

Avoid the 5 names that have way too much meaning, and avoid alerting your readers to your entire plot before it has the chance to unfold. If your characters have certain traits, show it to readers with your writing -- not with your naming.

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