Author Topic: A rose (or character) by any other name  (Read 733 times)  

Offline LDB

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A rose (or character) by any other name
« on: May 21, 2020, 11:45:51 am »
Apologies if this is the wrong section. Do character names affect your reading of a book? I read a number of book blurbs daily across several emails and blogs. Once in a while the character name(s) are so wild it puts me off an otherwise interesting sounding book. Any other readers find character names a make it or break it deal at times?

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    Offline E.B. Roshan

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    Re: A rose (or character) by any other name
    « Reply #1 on: May 21, 2020, 12:19:50 pm »
    To tell the truth, I do find made-up names (like what one might find in a fantasy) a bit off-putting, especially if they're difficult to pronounce. However, when the names are real ones, even if they're unfamiliar, this doesn't bother me. Learning a new name means you're learning a tiny, but important, bit of whatever language it's from.

    Offline Maura

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    Re: A rose (or character) by any other name
    « Reply #2 on: May 21, 2020, 05:17:10 pm »
    Absolutely. I avoided Robert Crais's Elvis Cole series for years because of the protag name. They're a kind of book I generally like, and once I broke down, the series became a favorite. On the other hand, I like classic Westerns and think Brett Cogburn is one of the few really good current writers in the genre, but I avoided his Widowmaker Jones series because of the stupid name for the protag. I've now tried to read one of those books 3 times and every time abandoned the book after less than a chapter.

    I really do believe character names influence reader perception. On my own first book I once did an experiment. I did several Search and Replace actions on my protag's name. Different names really affected my perception of the character. There's a real difference between a Clint and a Percival.

    Offline MorrowWriter

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    Re: A rose (or character) by any other name
    « Reply #3 on: May 21, 2020, 05:49:17 pm »
    I think you can push quite far with names. If I think of various thriller series, for example... the heroes often have preposterous names. To be honest, I've come across some incredible names in real life, Gravemaker and De'ath being two particular favourites  :D

    Francis Morrow

    Offline Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books]

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    Re: A rose (or character) by any other name
    « Reply #4 on: May 21, 2020, 05:53:40 pm »
    One of my characters is named Celsiana...which is a type of rose.  :)

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    Offline Jena H

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    Re: A rose (or character) by any other name
    « Reply #5 on: May 21, 2020, 08:09:25 pm »
    I agree that names that are either difficult to pronounce (even though a reader isn't really pronouncing it out loud) or even spelled in an unusual way-- like Tiphanee or Jessiekha--will take me right out of the story.  I can't speak for other readers, but I don't have the mental energy to try to internally translate those names every time they occur in the book.

    Unusual names are fine, as long as they can be read easily enough.  Anything that distracts me from the story takes me a step closer throwing in the towel as a reader.
    Jena

    Offline alienflower

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    Re: A rose (or character) by any other name
    « Reply #6 on: May 22, 2020, 01:37:35 am »
    Anne couldn't be Anne if she were Ann... or Cordelia. But seriously, strong characterization and readability of the name are what make characters fit their names for me.

    Offline LDB

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    Re: A rose (or character) by any other name
    « Reply #7 on: May 22, 2020, 10:01:26 am »
    Thank you all for the responses so far. Names make a significant difference for me when reading. I don't think I care between George or Fred or Steven but when they go to crazy things like Reginaldius or whatever I just can't get into it. I was curious if others had similar responses to character names.

    Offline vagabond.voyager

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    Re: A rose (or character) by any other name
    « Reply #8 on: May 22, 2020, 10:12:36 am »
    Apologies if this is the wrong section. Do character names affect your reading of a book? I read a number of book blurbs daily across several emails and blogs. Once in a while the character name(s) are so wild it puts me off an otherwise interesting sounding book. Any other readers find character names a make it or break it deal at times?
    I also have a problem with odd or misspelled names, particularly with common names like Sean spelled Shawn, or Michaela spelled Mykayla. I will not bother with such books.

    Offline C. Gold

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    Re: A rose (or character) by any other name
    « Reply #9 on: May 22, 2020, 02:59:00 pm »
    Hard to pronounce names can get exhausting. I tend to shorten them when I read them because I don't want to deal with trying to say it in my head. That also goes for real life names from other cultures where the letter combos are a different sound than they appear. Though I did work really hard to learn (roughly) how to pronounce the volcano in Iceland just because I got tired of calling it Eye-ya (eyes skitter off the rest as the mind rebels).

    I don't think I've ever skipped reading a book because I didn't like the names, but I have stopped reading books with hard to figure out dialect. Names I can handle. If you want your fantasy dude to be called Fjornbjallanes, I'll call him "F" or maybe "Fjorn", but when I have to translate speech, I'm out. I never finished "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" because of the dialect. Good story, but too much work.


    Offline katherinef

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    Re: A rose (or character) by any other name
    « Reply #10 on: May 23, 2020, 02:02:18 am »
    I can't imagine deciding not to read a book that sounds interesting because of a character name. It just sounds silly. That said, since I mostly read romance and YA/NA books, it does take me longer to get into a book if the main character has some boring, old-sounding name, like John, Jane, George because it's harder for me to picture them as young and attractive. 
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    Offline Jena H

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    Re: A rose (or character) by any other name
    « Reply #11 on: May 23, 2020, 05:31:30 am »
    I can't imagine deciding not to read a book that sounds interesting because of a character name. It just sounds silly.

    It's not a matter of "deciding not to read a book" ahead of time because of character name.  It's a matter of having to struggle with pronouncing the name once you start reading.  The first time you come across a name like D'Jarevico or Vero-Neequahfi, it's not too difficult to power through.  But by the tenth or twelfth time you have to deal with that name--in the first chapter, no less-- well, it gets a little more frustrating. And I don't care to waste my time and energy in that way.  So yeah, I have no problem tossing a book aside when I get frustrated.  No skin off my nose, I lose nothing.


    ... it does take me longer to get into a book if the main character has some boring, old-sounding name, like John, Jane, George because it's harder for me to picture them as young and attractive. 

    Um, okaaay....    :o :o :o
    Jena

    Offline LDB

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    Re: A rose (or character) by any other name
    « Reply #12 on: May 23, 2020, 05:57:03 am »
    Yeah, I admit it, I'll decide not to read a book that sounds really interesting if the name(s) in the blurb are that weird. And I may get scolded or censored but everyone is young from birth regardless of their name so that's not a very logical thought process.

    Online alhawke

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    Re: A rose (or character) by any other name
    « Reply #13 on: May 23, 2020, 08:36:46 am »
    There is a part of my brain that likes the sounds of certain names. It's not the rational side. But this stuff is probably really subjective.

    I use nicknames constantly in my books because they're shorter and easier for characters to pronounce. So one of my character's name is Cadence, but her friends call her Kate or Katie. Because Cadence to me sounds really cool and has a musical sound, and meaning, to it.

    It's all right brain stuff.
    « Last Edit: May 23, 2020, 08:40:19 am by alhawke »


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    Offline katherinef

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    Re: A rose (or character) by any other name
    « Reply #14 on: May 23, 2020, 11:21:30 am »
    It's not a matter of "deciding not to read a book" ahead of time because of character name. It's a matter of having to struggle with pronouncing the name once you start reading. The first time you come across a name like D'Jarevico or Vero-Neequahfi, it's not too difficult to power through.

    I don't read books out loud, so I don't care much if my brain is pronouncing it wrong. Whatever pronunciation my brain comes up with the first time, stays, and if the same name repeats, I don't need to try to figure out how to pronounce it again. It becomes like any other word.

    Um, okaaay....

    It's usually related to the popularity of certain names in real life. Some names were really popular in the past and now it's rare to find a younger person with those names, so I guess my brain has expectations based on real life. If I know a bunch of people over 50 with a certain name and zero or one teen with that name, I'll see the name and expect someone older.
    De gustibus non est disputandum.

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    Offline Jena H

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    Re: A rose (or character) by any other name
    « Reply #15 on: May 23, 2020, 04:14:54 pm »
    I don't read books out loud, so I don't care much if my brain is pronouncing it wrong. Whatever pronunciation my brain comes up with the first time, stays, and if the same name repeats, I don't need to try to figure out how to pronounce it again. It becomes like any other word.

    It's usually related to the popularity of certain names in real life. Some names were really popular in the past and now it's rare to find a younger person with those names, so I guess my brain has expectations based on real life. If I know a bunch of people over 50 with a certain name and zero or one teen with that name, I'll see the name and expect someone older.

    I don't read books out loud either, but words on the page are processed by our brains.  I'm not gonna waste time processing really unusual names. 
    Jena

    Offline Doglover

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    Re: A rose (or character) by any other name
    « Reply #16 on: May 24, 2020, 02:11:32 am »
    There is nothing worse than having silly, modern names popping up in an historical novel. I read that when Gone with the Wind was first written, the heroine was called Pansy. I do think it would have detracted from the whole story if she had stayed as Pansy.

    Titles, however, can really put me off reading a book or watching a film. It is a pity that some excellent films are ruined by daft titles. Ever seen the tale of Ted Bundy? Wonderful film, I thought, but what a bloody daft title: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. I know that's what the Judge called him, but that's no excuse.


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    Offline jb1111

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    Re: A rose (or character) by any other name
    « Reply #17 on: May 24, 2020, 02:35:53 am »
    I haven't read any books with odd or strange names, frankly, aside from those in the Hobbit and maybe Harry Potter -- some of which are a little odd, but not too difficult to register while reading.

    I think it all depends on the genre. If your genre is action thrillers, you want the protagonist to have a name that reflects that, obviously, and that's what I've encountered, and I think the readers expect names to fit the type of character.

    Offline Sapphire

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    Re: A rose (or character) by any other name
    « Reply #18 on: May 26, 2020, 07:31:05 am »
    I also have a problem with odd or misspelled names, particularly with common names like Sean spelled Shawn, or Michaela spelled Mykayla. I will not bother with such books.
    My son-in-law is named Shawn. Being as close to him as I am, the spelling Sean looks odd to me (even if its usage dates further back).
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    Offline LDB

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    Re: A rose (or character) by any other name
    « Reply #19 on: May 26, 2020, 08:11:33 pm »
    I'm ok with either Sean or Shawn. It's when they go to something like LaShawndaMichaelaLouise or similar extended and expanded incredibly unlikely anywhere but in the book type name that it tends to spoil the whole party.

    Offline Shane Lochlann Black

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    Re: A rose (or character) by any other name
    « Reply #20 on: May 26, 2020, 08:55:22 pm »
    Sometimes, but then again I read Snow Crash.  When you have a main character called "Hiro Protagonist" you let authors do their thing.    8)

    Offline C. Gold

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    Re: A rose (or character) by any other name
    « Reply #21 on: May 26, 2020, 10:33:02 pm »
    Sometimes, but then again I read Snow Crash.  When you have a main character called "Hiro Protagonist" you let authors do their thing.    8)
    LOL I forgot about that name!

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