Daily Archives: December 8, 2010

Character Names–too much of a good thing

Once upon a time, I had two novels running parallel to each other.  The general premise was the same–in a dystopian kind of way.  The MC’s ages almost identical.  In one, the MC found herself part of a clone project.  The other MC a victim of personality testing that would force her into an unwanted future. 

When I hit that “and now what” moment with the second MC, I realized she was the other MC’s sister.  The one I hadn’t yet met, but knew was an integral part of the first story.  So far, the marriage between the two ideas has been seamless.

Except the names.

I like unique character names, and I’m sucker for fun girl names in particular.  This meant that I had four wonderfully unique names for my characters–two male and two female.  When I put them together, it became apparent that I the parents of these kids had lost their ever-lovin’ minds.  The combination–which had worked well singularly–was suddenly bizarre.

A little like my family tree.  While doing DD’s project, she wondered we hadn’t named her after anyone like we had with the boys.  When I ran down the choices (Florence, Dovie, Vinie, Myrna, Elvira, Pearl and–way way back–Sindervilla) she understood.   Sometimes a normal name is the unique name.

Same with naming our characters.  When we try to cram too many unique names into one manuscript, it becomes cumbersome and distracting. 

I have since taken my young MC’s to court and petitioned for a name change.  While I lament the loss of some pretty cool names, it had to be done.

How about you?  Do you find yourself drawn to traditional names or unique names with funky spellings?  Do you do this across gender or are you more girl-centric with offbeat names?  What’s the most bizarre name you’ve come across in your life?