Okay, somebody out there (read: Zoe) is going to say this is the Pot calling the Kettle black (no, I’m Kettle, remember?), but seriously people–I really, really hate weird spellings for names. Yes, this coming from a woman named Kait rather than Kate (but hey, Kate Nolan is apparently a realtor in Massachusetts and she had the .com). Some family members of my husband’s are expecting and have chosen a very bizarre spelling of a perfectly normal name for their daughter. To avoid controversy I’m not naming names, but believe me, you’re not doing your kids any favors by choosing to take a normal name and making it “special”. You’re condemning them to a lifetime of nobody being able to spell (and in some cases pronounce) their name. But it’s not real life funky names I wanted to talk about. It’s character names in books.
I opened Dark Lover this morning and smack dab on page 1 is some guy named Tohrment. I will not address the massive WTF kind of name that is in the first place–this is a fantasy world of vamps. But why add that random “h” in the middle? Really? It’s distracting and silly looking. It makes me want to go through with a big “find and replace” (not that I can do that with a paperback…). I think there’s more latitude with character names in fantasy than there would be in, say, contemporaries. But if your character’s name looks like something that was spit out of a psychotic printer (you know how printers sometimes just start spewing nonsensical garbage?)–you’ve got a problem. I need to be able to easily pronounce that character’s name in my head to focus on the story. I know there is a desire to create unique and interesting characters, but use some skill in WRITING the character to provide that designation–don’t just jumble up letters from a Scrabble bag.
Now I know, I know. Names are really a big thing with me. (Pot and I jut had a discussion about this yesterday). If I pick up a book and see on the back cover that the heroine’s name is something like Desyree and she’s hooking up with Jaysen, I don’t care how interesting the premise sounds, I’m going to put it back. Now I don’t mean that you have to name them John or Beth or some equally common (and easily pronounced) name. But try to avoid funky spellings for common names. They’re just really really annoying to some readers. Pick a less common name instead. Like Fiona or Reece. There are oodles of resources available to help you name your characters. I link to at least half a dozen over there in the Fun Stuff section of my blogroll.
/gripe. Hopefully Ward’s book will be interesting enough that it distracts me from the weird names.