Today we have the return of Book Confessions, a series we started back in September 2013! One of the confessions we received that simply read “Sometimes I find silly character names so annoying and distracting!” so today we're talking character names and it seems we're all pretty much agreed on this one! Here's what our anonymous contributors have to say on the subject...
"There's nothing more distracting in a book that a name I can't work out how to pronounce or is so 'out there' that it just doesn't seem realistic. You can usually get away with unusual names in the fantasy or sci-fi genres (depending on how far in the future the book is set), but if it's a contemporary novel set in the real world I can't stand unusual names for the sake of being unusual or because they have a hidden meaning behind them. Sometimes it's nice to read about someone called Sarah or John!"
"I am one to find silly character names distracting, as I think you can loose the immersive element that you can achieve from reading, the silly name can bring you crashing back to the reality, one prime example would be 'Renesmee' from Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn."
"I love ridiculous character names - I just love abstract or strange names in general. A name from a book that's stuck with me for years would be Indigo. I love the name Primrose, too! Kevin is a name I absolutely don't like."
"I find silly character names so annoying!! To the point where my brain will actually switch off and rename the character to a simple, easy to pronounce name that begins with the same letter such a Frank or Sarah. I then will always use that new name throughout the book but also I tend to forget they had a different name and will use that name if discussing with a friend for example and then I get strange looks."
"For me, character names are an important part of the story. If the name is believable for the genre/time period, then that is usually fine, but something that doesn't fit will bug me the whole time. I think it's annoying when authors alternate between using a character's first name and surname - that can be very confusing, especially if the surname could also be a first name! I also enjoy unusual characters having unusual names, particularly in fantasy novels.
Some notable names from books I read this year: Helen Bunion (unfortunately, not a foot doctor - she is a therapist), Biba Capel (short for Bathsheba - a dramatic name for a dramatic girl), Andrew Ryan (who is referred to as both "Andrew" and "Ryan").
Special mention: 'The Time Machine' and 'The Invisible Man' by H. G. Wells include protagonists who are never named - only called "the time traveller" and "the invisible man". This makes for a very impersonal relationship with the main character, which is not my favourite method."
"When I think about names that I've found silly or distracting, one immediately springs to mind: Augustus Waters. Sorry, not buying into a romantic lead called Augustus. No way. Not happening."
If you have a book confession of your own let us know via email & we may feature it in a future post! - email@example.com
Thank you to all of our anonymous contributors!