Weird names

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CharleeVale
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Weird names

Post by CharleeVale » March 25th, 2010, 5:26 pm

Does it ever bother you when authors use really weird names? and I don't mean unusual ones, or unique alternate spellings. I mean the ones that are termed 'elvish' and usually have so many i's and e's you can't even begin to fathom where it came from or how to pronounce it?

I've been doing quite a bit of beta reading lately, and frankly these names are just getting ridiculous! I have a couple off the wall names in my M.S., but I've never had anyone ever have trouble with pronouncing them.

What do you guys think? How far is too far when it comes to names? Where is the line at which you lose your audience to 'WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?'

CV

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shadow
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Re: Weird names

Post by shadow » March 25th, 2010, 7:13 pm

what was I thinking? lol. My MC's name is weird to many but I love it and I simply don't care because I have heard so many that were harder to pronounce in published novels.
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gonzo2802
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Re: Weird names

Post by gonzo2802 » March 25th, 2010, 10:58 pm

This was a problem I thought mainly happened only in Sci-Fi and High Fantasy type stories, so I never really worried about it much. But now there are super strange names seeping into different types of fiction all over the freaking place. From contemporary romance to YA.

Personally, if I'm looking at the back jacket of a book, and I see a name I know I'll never be able to pronounce the same way twice ... I put the book back down. Uncommon names I like. I picked this because I'm trying to come up with something you've never heard of before type names spoil it for me, even if the story line had real potential.

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aspiring_x
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Re: Weird names

Post by aspiring_x » March 26th, 2010, 12:25 am

really ridiculous names drive me bonkers... i used to work in postpartum, and it's not just authors who do it... poor baby johoiakim. (ok, i made that one up, but hipaa won't allow me to list the equally ridiculous real ones.)

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knight_tour
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Re: Weird names

Post by knight_tour » March 26th, 2010, 7:21 am

I have one weird name in my book, but it's only hard to pronounce if you don't bother trying. You almost never see his full name anyhow, since he uses a nickname. Funny, but he chose his name purposely due to the reasons you stated. He was from earth originally, and when he discovered that he could manipulate 'magic' on this new planet, he decided he needed a 'wizard' name. So he picked Xaxanakis. I know, looks hard, but it really isn't. It is pronounced Zax-AN-a-kiss. He just goes by Xax.
Last edited by knight_tour on March 26th, 2010, 1:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Matthew MacNish
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Re: Weird names

Post by Matthew MacNish » March 26th, 2010, 7:30 am

It all depends. If it is High Fantasy where entire languages are created, like Tolkien or Paolini, then it is almost a necessity. Otherwise it can be too much. I like the sound of Xax though.

Sometimes even simple names can be hard to figure out. All through my youth when I read Tolkien I always pronounced the bad guy's name Sauron: Soar-On. Then I saw the movies and realized I was wrong. Apparently it's Sow-Ron. Go figure.

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shadow
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Re: Weird names

Post by shadow » March 26th, 2010, 11:13 am

knight_tour wrote:I have one weird name in my book, but it's only hard to pronounce if you don't bother trying. You almost never see his full name anyhow, since he uses a nickname. Funny, but he chose his name purposely due to the reasons you stated. He was from earth originally, and when he discovered that he could manipulate 'magic' on this new planet, he decided he needed a 'wizard' name. So he picked Xaxanakis. I know, looks hard, but it really isn't. It is pronounce Zax-AN-a-kiss. He just goes by Xax.
That name looks harder to pronounce to me than my dudes, but it isn't hard hard and it wouldn't stop me from reading your book:)
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bcomet
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Re: Weird names

Post by bcomet » March 26th, 2010, 12:25 pm

I think about names a LOT.
Their musicality is important to me. How they sound.
The name sound has to fit the character for me.

(Think Count Dracula - it's so perfectly evil sounding. Change that to Mister Bippins, not so, one thinks of a portly baffoon.)

I often research names for meanings.

When it comes to names like Vikptyurkis or something equally unpronounceable, I can't hear it. It's like stepping with your bare foot on peanut butter.

And when there is a succession of unpronounceable names in a row, it is very hard for me to continue on. Worlds and names are supposed to bring me in not throw me out.

(Viku as opposed to Vikptyurkis, for example works better for me.)

Vowels are mean to be extended or lift, and–when they continue on–connected to consonants that anchor them. Consonants all tied up in knots ruins that.
(Draaaaa quuuuuu laaaaa is fun to say. / Viii kkpppttttt ey errrr kisss is impossible.)

That said, I love unusual, but pronounceable names. And some that even stretch my pronunciation.

(For example, Hermoine in Harry Potter was a new name in our household. We came up with two ways to pronounce it–that we both liked
before the first movie came out and we heard it pronounced. In a way, that was fun. But a character can be hard to anchor in a reader's mind if their name is hard to pronounce or grasp.)
Almost all of Rowling's (character and magical) names were way fab: Quidditch, for example, unique and pronounceable.

(*An odd thing about Quidditch is that, unlike football or baseball, it is always capitalized.)

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mmcdonald64
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Re: Weird names

Post by mmcdonald64 » March 26th, 2010, 6:16 pm

I have the opposite problem. I had a couple people comment on the common names of the characters in my book. Jim and Bill. Thing is, these are military type guys, they are late 40s, early 50s. Those names are/were incredibly common then and I wanted the characters to be believable and very much conservative sounding. What didn't dawn on me until I was about done was that Jim and Bill, arguably bad guys in my book, are the names of two of my brothers, two brothers-in-law and my dad. Hmmm...

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maybegenius
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Re: Weird names

Post by maybegenius » March 26th, 2010, 6:17 pm

I have kind of a bias against really out-there names in anything but high fantasy or SF - genres where unique names are expected. My bias actually extends from the fact that I used to get such a bug in my brain about names, and looking back now most of them seem hokey and silly because they don't match the genre I was going for. I agree with bcomet that we don't want to give characters ill-fitting names, but sometimes I feel like a little too much thought and "creativity" goes into naming characters. It's almost like the trend in new parents to come up with the most special, one-of-a-kind name for their baby to put an actual label on the child's uniqueness. Sometimes it just screams "trying too hard." I tend to be more of the opinion that the characters themselves, whether they're named John or Zangernadden, should be the ones proving how truly special they are, not their name.

Sometimes a "special" character name fits, but many times it falls flat. I'm not opposed to unusual names, I'm just not a fan of a really wackadoodle made-up name in a genre where everyone else is named something like Fred or Jessica. There's nothing wrong with having a character named Fred or Jessica.

I guess what I'm getting at is, if an author is using a character's name as a way to "show" that they're unique, I feel that's the wrong reason to select a weird name.
aka S.E. Sinkhorn, or Steph

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Holly
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Re: Weird names

Post by Holly » March 26th, 2010, 7:24 pm

CharleeVale wrote:Does it ever bother you when authors use really weird names? and I don't mean unusual ones, or unique alternate spellings. I mean the ones that are termed 'elvish' and usually have so many i's and e's you can't even begin to fathom where it came from or how to pronounce it?

I've been doing quite a bit of beta reading lately, and frankly these names are just getting ridiculous! I have a couple off the wall names in my M.S., but I've never had anyone ever have trouble with pronouncing them.

What do you guys think? How far is too far when it comes to names? Where is the line at which you lose your audience to 'WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?'

CV
Yes, weird names weird me out. I buy a lot of books, but if I crack one open and the names look like Albanian fertilizer or an ingredient in Kazakhstanian goat soap... well, I put those books back. But hey, I could be in the minority. Somebody somewhere is reading them.

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Hillsy
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Re: Weird names

Post by Hillsy » March 26th, 2010, 9:12 pm

Names become pretty oblivious after six or seven appearances anyway - no massive need to get hung up on them. I mean I end up sticking extra syllables in the middle of them half the time, or omitting half of it. Your eye should be passing over them so it becomes a shape, less of a word, that lets you know who's doing what.

Conversely, I find plain names in the middle of a fantasy book just the most frustrating thing in the universe. Richard in 'Wizard's first rule' just floors me. But again I can handle it after the first chapter.....it's when on page 396 he introduces the head guard - "Craig Smith." or something in that vein.

AARRRGGHHHH!!!!

Surely that's one of the beautiful things about fantasy....it allows you to continually use the name Keriathonia - which is both fun and a finger exercise you can do at your keyboard!

Anyways - names are names, people identifiers (in the programming world they're called 'tags') - A real shame if it turns you off, potentially, two years of a writer’s life
Last edited by Hillsy on March 26th, 2010, 9:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Ishta
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Re: Weird names

Post by Ishta » March 26th, 2010, 9:13 pm

No, weird names don't put me off unless they seem really contrived. (Renesmee, anyone?)

But then again, I've had a weird name all my life, (Ishta Mercurio, pronounced EESH-tuh mer-KEER-ee-oh), and even though EVERYBODY botches it when they try to say it the first time, I've come to treasure the uniqueness of it. It's my name...it's part of who I am...I am unique...why not? I think it would be kind of neat if every person had their own unique name, to reflect that we are each unique, you know?

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christi
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Re: Weird names

Post by christi » March 26th, 2010, 10:39 pm

This whole subject is close to my heart. Here's a SAMPLE of the names in my MS (fantasy, btw)

People:
Asherasinosia Asmodym Axmyl Azomyn Calchas Cryzba Ebshesa Gonmyr Korbyn Velryk Vrugan Grinlai Gyan Twai Idouchoh Jakfyr Jakorus Kwynzar Borcai Fletus Raghuv Ondsyr Xyahda Oscilnar Ranhulyr Ashyrea Sheribai Woomfis

Species:
Bryzintan Bukdar Droydha Dwodyn Folzyr Framorai Hordusk Krenoc Quiswanti Randyr Rutsyn Sbetchie Thraxdil Trybsar Vlydai Vylrac Wrixyr Xaymongkol

Places:
Cybraxas Casdora Ousintoz

Do your eyes hurt yet? :-)
Would you sign my story for a Klondike bar?

http://christigoddard.blogspot.com/

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Quill
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Re: Weird names

Post by Quill » March 26th, 2010, 11:42 pm

ouch

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