Let’s Talk Tuesday: Does That Name Come With Phonetics?


Photo Credit: Sgris89 via WANA Commons

Names play an important role in stories. They can help define a character’s personality, and can make them unique. If the name is unique enough, it can be branded in the reader’s head, leaving them with a constant remembrance of your book.

However, some names–especially in science-fiction and fantasy–can get to be a bit complicated. They can be so complicated in that they slow down the book entirely. I find it slightly annoying when I’m reading, and all the sudden Vleai’fkeorbaila decides to pull a gun on Bleertiouypo. But then, Aerthyra jumps in to save Bleertiouypo, only to be shot down by Vleai’fkeorbaila’s twin brother, Vleai’fkeorbailailp. Things can get pretty dicey.

Naming characters is a responsible act. Making sure that the character’s have a fitting name is one of the biggest things I look for in a book. Often times, I’ll spend an hour or longer coming up with a name that fits the character’s past, present, future, and their reputation.

Do you stress about character names? What’s the most unique name you’ve come up with? Are there any books you’ve read with names that are too hard to pronounce, or that slow up the story?

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5 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Tuesday: Does That Name Come With Phonetics?

  1. Grr, nothing irritates me more than names that I can’t pronounce! More than anything, I can’t even discuss the book with a friend without looking like a looney because I can’t actually say any of the characters names lol.

  2. Yes, I agree with being able to pronounce the character’s name. It is pretty darn important. From a writer’s perspective I place a good deal of importance on a character’s name. For most major characters. For example: Officer Winifred Goodman. It is right there in his name, he is a good man and you can rely on him to be honest, helpful and truthful.Other times I am slightly more subtle: Ignatius St. Eligius. Ignatius is just pretty darn cool for a protagonist and St. Eligius could be loosely defined as the patron saint of inventors and engineers. Not too shabby for the lead in a Steampunk series, eh? I will confess though, I have put a few awful names in place. Still for the most part, main characters need strong, easy to work with names. Take any of the examples Chris provided us. Imagine having to type those out several times a page for 250 pages….Yeah, I think Vleai’fkeorbailailp would slip, trip and fall into an industrial sized blender pretty quickly. Good thing he was only a pixie…Add ice cream, oh look Pixie Float, an Ork’s favorite treat. BTW, what about spelling and plurals of fantasy names? i.e. Orc vs. Ork, Dwarfs, Dwarves etc? Any thoughts?

  3. Hahaha, this was hilarious! I’m right there with you, too. High fantasy and science fiction both have this problem in spades. Names are super important for me when it comes to my characters. I love unique names, but if I can’t even pronounce them, I’m definitely not putting them in!

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