Favourite characters' names?

Recommendations, discussions, and odes to your favorites

Favourite characters' names?

Postby jkmcdonnell » 06 Jan 2011, 00:49

(Thought I spotted a gap in the market here, but if it's been covered in another thread, let me know.)

What are you favourite characters' names? Are they from a book you've read or your own WIP? Did you like the name before reading about the character, or did the character make you love the name?

For me, some definite favourites are Rhett Butler from GONE WITH THE WIND and Holden Caulfield in CATCHER IN THE RYE (say what you want about the book, it's a friggin' cool name).

And lastly - do you love or hate the semi-made up, twenty consonant types often employed in epic fantasies, or names born from inanimate objects/elements?
jkmcdonnell
 
Posts: 84
Joined: 14 Jan 2010, 20:23

Re: Favourite characters' names?

Postby Watcher55 » 06 Jan 2011, 06:30

jkmcdonnell wrote:(Thought I spotted a gap in the market here, but if it's been covered in another thread, let me know.)

What are you favourite characters' names? Are they from a book you've read or your own WIP? Did you like the name before reading about the character, or did the character make you love the name?

For me, some definite favourites are Rhett Butler from GONE WITH THE WIND and Holden Caulfield in CATCHER IN THE RYE (say what you want about the book, it's a friggin' cool name).

And lastly - do you love or hate the semi-made up, twenty consonant types often employed in epic fantasies, or names born from inanimate objects/elements?


Slartibartfast, in THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE and LIFE, THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING. He did all the fiddly-bits around the fjiords.

The made up names - Meh - definitely not the ones that are unpronounceable, otherwise there has to be some sort of underlying logic to the naming scheme.

I do like characters who are named for objects/elements but I'd rather a female, for example, be named Koshka (Russian) rather than Cat (I can't remember the language) - Zephyr rather than Wind.

I always thought Corriander would make a good name for a character.
User avatar
Watcher55
 
Posts: 741
Joined: 27 Nov 2010, 06:25
Location: Plantser-ville

Re: Favourite characters' names?

Postby jkmcdonnell » 06 Jan 2011, 06:45

Watcher55 wrote:Slartibartfast, in THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE and LIFE, THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING. He did all the fiddly-bits around the fjiords.


Now that is a good name. I'm simultaneously picturing breakfast, vomit and The Simpsons.
jkmcdonnell
 
Posts: 84
Joined: 14 Jan 2010, 20:23

Re: Favourite characters' names?

Postby stephmcgee » 06 Jan 2011, 11:05

I loved the nickname Silk from David Eddings' Belgariad and Mallorean series. It just summed up the character in one word. Tamora Pierce's Alanna. I'd love to name a daughter that. Or Keladry.

I just like names that are pronouncable, look semi-normal, and flow off the tongue. Like Varyen, from one of my drafted novels.
stephmcgee
 
Posts: 210
Joined: 16 Aug 2010, 09:44

Re: Favourite characters' names?

Postby Sommer Leigh » 06 Jan 2011, 12:19

I have a few name hang ups.

I'm not crazy about unpronouncable fantasy names. I "read out loud" in my head when I read and if I cannot figure out how to pronounce a name I am very upset and sometimes, if it is bad enough, will stop me from reading.

I have also noticed that dystopian fiction is picking this trend up too, as if the end of the world as we know it means we start naming our kids weird words that sound more like pet names than people names. Like Figgy or Lorp. What's that all about?

I also do not like when authors name a stereotype with a name associated with that stereotype. Like naming a blond, bubbly cheerleader Brittany, a dumb red neck backwoods kid Bud, or the brooding vampire named Damien.

I loved the name Jonah Griggs from Melina Marchetta's Jellicoe Road. I'll have to think about some others but none are coming to me.
May the word counts be ever in your favor. http://www.sommerleigh.com
Be nice, or I get out the Tesla cannon.
Sommer Leigh
Moderator
 
Posts: 1624
Joined: 02 Apr 2010, 20:07
Location: Omaha, NE

Re: Favourite characters' names?

Postby Cookie » 06 Jan 2011, 12:57

I don't like unpronounceable names either. I just don't get why a writer would do that. You can be original with the names and still make them pronounceable.

Sommer, is there really a character named Lorp? What an odd name.

My favorites are Pippin from LOTR (he was my favorite character in the book), and I can't think of any more at the moment. They will come to me.
User avatar
Cookie
 
Posts: 540
Joined: 20 Sep 2010, 08:18
Location: Berkshires

Re: Favourite characters' names?

Postby Margo » 06 Jan 2011, 13:54

Cookie wrote:I don't like unpronounceable names either. I just don't get why a writer would do that.


In some cases, it's just a matter of the writer not realizing that people can't pronounce something that the writer can.

I had this issue when I was writing epic fantasy and posting writing for critiques on the DROWW. Unfortunately for me, I'm good with pronouncing words in other languages (provided the letters make roughly the same sound they make in English - I'm looking at you, Gaelic), so naming a character's ancestral estate Humfridhak Mirrid or Kyrgan Irkyr didn't seem like a problem for me. I look at that and immediately think of Scandinavian and Russian influences and would know how to pronounce it. One person insisted these were utterly unpronounceable.

When I used names based on classical Latin (for instance, Stellae), I got a complaint.

When I used an Old English form of a Celtic name (Krosban), I got a complaint.

Everyone who complained insisted these were unpronounceable when they're not. I could understand someone being intimidated by the Scandinavian-Russian influenced names, was a little less sympathetic about Stellae (it's a real Latin word!), and was convinced the person was outright too lazy to even bother trying to say Krosban. It's pronounced phonetically, for gosh sakes. And that reader was the most irate about the name being unpronounceable. The entire review for the chapter was two paragraphs about how unpronounceable and ridiculous that name was.

I tested my theory that if I shortened names to be no more than 5 letters, no one would complain. It was hardly scientific, but I got no complaints.

I think I'd apply the criticism to the fantasy/sci-fi names that involve apostophes when the author doesn't correctly grasp what that really means for things like glottal stops.
Last edited by Margo on 06 Jan 2011, 14:02, edited 1 time in total.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/
Margo
 
Posts: 1712
Joined: 05 Apr 2010, 08:21

Re: Favourite characters' names?

Postby Margo » 06 Jan 2011, 13:59

Oh, and my favorite character names, fresh on my mind after reading a blog post on the book, would be Phedre no Delaunay (I don't know how to put in the accent marks here) and Melisande Shahrizai.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/
Margo
 
Posts: 1712
Joined: 05 Apr 2010, 08:21

Re: Favourite characters' names?

Postby bcomet » 06 Jan 2011, 14:30

Terry Pratchett: From his Diskworld Series: DEATH.
bcomet
 
Posts: 581
Joined: 23 Jan 2010, 12:11

Re: Favourite characters' names?

Postby Cookie » 06 Jan 2011, 14:37

Margo wrote:
Cookie wrote:I don't like unpronounceable names either. I just don't get why a writer would do that.


In some cases, it's just a matter of the writer not realizing that people can't pronounce something that the writer can.

I had this issue when I was writing epic fantasy and posting writing for critiques on the DROWW. Unfortunately for me, I'm good with pronouncing words in other languages (provided the letters make roughly the same sound they make in English - I'm looking at you, Gaelic), so naming a character's ancestral estate Humfridhak Mirrid or Kyrgan Irkyr didn't seem like a problem for me. I look at that and immediately think of Scandinavian and Russian influences and would know how to pronounce it. One person insisted these were utterly unpronounceable.

When I used names based on classical Latin (for instance, Stellae), I got a complaint.

When I used an Old English form of a Celtic name (Krosban), I got a complaint.

Everyone who complained insisted these were unpronounceable when they're not. I could understand someone being intimidated by the Scandinavian-Russian influenced names, was a little less sympathetic about Stellae (it's a real Latin word!), and was convinced the person was outright too lazy to even bother trying to say Krosban. It's pronounced phonetically, for gosh sakes. And that reader was the most irate about the name being unpronounceable. The entire review for the chapter was two paragraphs about how unpronounceable and ridiculous that name was.

I tested my theory that if I shortened names to be no more than 5 letters, no one would complain. It was hardly scientific, but I got no complaints.

I think I'd apply the criticism to the fantasy/sci-fi names that involve apostophes when the author doesn't correctly grasp what that really means for things like glottal stops.



I see your point. I might be a little guilty of that too, as my characters all have Japanese names, which while are not nearly as hard as Gaelic or Scandinavian names, could be a problem for some people. Although, my biggest problem with names so far was not with pronunciation, but using the name Ken. People said that it didn't fit, since I was using Japanese names and Ken is not a Japanese name. It actually is a Japanese name, even though it is originally a Gaelic name. In Japanese it means build, but in Gaelic it means born of fire. I had a hard time naming him because there is no Japanese name that means fire-- so I had to stretch a bit.

I personally wouldn't have a problem with Sellae or Krosban. I also don't see how Humfridhak Mirrid is completely unpronounceable--especially if it is actually a word in another language. I won't stop reading a book because a character or places name is unpronounceable, but after a while I while stop trying to pronounce it.
User avatar
Cookie
 
Posts: 540
Joined: 20 Sep 2010, 08:18
Location: Berkshires

Re: Favourite characters' names?

Postby Margo » 06 Jan 2011, 16:38

Cookie wrote:I won't stop reading a book because a character or places name is unpronounceable, but after a while I while stop trying to pronounce it.


I do this, too. If I can't figure out a name, I'll just focus on the first 2 or 3 letters so I will recognize the name next time it comes up. This works well for me unless the book has several characters whose names are all about the same length and all start with the same 2 or 3 letters.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/
Margo
 
Posts: 1712
Joined: 05 Apr 2010, 08:21

Re: Favourite characters' names?

Postby Cookie » 06 Jan 2011, 16:41

Margo wrote:
Cookie wrote:I won't stop reading a book because a character or places name is unpronounceable, but after a while I while stop trying to pronounce it.


I do this, too. If I can't figure out a name, I'll just focus on the first 2 or 3 letters so I will recognize the name next time it comes up. This works well for me unless the book has several characters whose names are all about the same length and all start with the same 2 or 3 letters.



Lol. I mumble the names.
User avatar
Cookie
 
Posts: 540
Joined: 20 Sep 2010, 08:18
Location: Berkshires

Re: Favourite characters' names?

Postby Evelyn » 06 Jan 2011, 16:59

Cookie wrote:Lol. I mumble the names.


Hee hee hee. How about Hermione in Harry Potter? I found out that I'd been reading it (and mentally pronouncing) it wrong for years. Or maybe those other people are wrong? I believe I've heard it pronounced several different ways!

...I wonder if JK got any grief from her beta readers about it?

Evelyn (whose main characters are named: Elaine, Marc, and Adam.)
User avatar
Evelyn
 
Posts: 65
Joined: 06 Oct 2010, 09:01
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: Favourite characters' names?

Postby Cookie » 06 Jan 2011, 17:06

Evelyn wrote:
Cookie wrote:Lol. I mumble the names.


Hee hee hee. How about Hermione in Harry Potter? I found out that I'd been reading it (and mentally pronouncing) it wrong for years. Or maybe those other people are wrong? I believe I've heard it pronounced several different ways!

...I wonder if JK got any grief from her beta readers about it?

Evelyn (whose main characters are named: Elaine, Marc, and Adam.)



Oh, I totally pronounced her name wrong too.
User avatar
Cookie
 
Posts: 540
Joined: 20 Sep 2010, 08:18
Location: Berkshires

Re: Favourite characters' names?

Postby Sleeping Beauty » 06 Jan 2011, 19:35

Remember, we're all pronouncing Voldemort wrong. J.K.R never has pronounced the 't'. So maybe it some instances, it doesn't matter what the author says about pronunciation. I too said Hermione wrong until the first film came out - I said it like "Hermy-own."

I've always loved Merry from Lord of the Rings, and Silkie from The Faraway Tree. Such gentle names!
Sleeping Beauty
 
Posts: 87
Joined: 20 May 2010, 23:51

Next

Return to All Things Books

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 1 guest