Sunday, April 20, 2014

Discussion: Weird Names

I was talking with my friend Nichole about possible topics for Bookish Discussions and we got on the subject of strange names. We've noticed that fictitious names keep getting stranger and stranger. Names you never seen in real life are cropping up at alarming rates in novels. While I like interesting names, if all characters are named something unique is the name really unique or has it lost the quality that once made it special?
Heroine Names
I'm like a bird, my name is Wren (The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine), or maybe Kestrel (The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski), or just plain Birdie (Crux by Julie Reece). YA Romantics talked about this topic of girls with bird names in January and since then I have been noticing it more and more. Initially, it didn't really bother me but now the Nelly Fertado song "I'm like a bird" gets stuck in my head every time I see a bird named character. I'm just waiting for a heroine to be named, Seagull. I have a feeling she'll be my favorite.
Leading Men

  • Dank (Predestined by Abbie Glines)
  • Four (Divergent by Veronica Roth)
  • Jackal (The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa)
  • Ringer (Summer series by CJ Duggan)
  • The Darkling (Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo)*
  • Morpheus (Splintered by AG Howard)
  • Ink (Indelible by Dawn Metcalf)

...and that's just the tip of the iceberg

What happened to sexy guys named Tyler or Jake? This isn't across the board, but in most novels I read nowadays the male character has a very normal name but goes by  very not normal nickname (i.e. Jackal is really named James and Four is really named Tobias). Either that or they just have a weird name in general.

*In all fairness this is High Fantasy and most names in High Fantasy are out there.
Last Thoughts 
I know it sounds like I've bee complaining about weird names but in all honestly I kind of like them. I enjoy seeing main and supporting character's with names that I have no preconceived notions about. For example, when I meet a new person and her name happens to be Hannah, then new Hannah has to work to overcome all the bad Hannah's I've met prior to meeting her (sorry if your name is Hannah). When character's have a different, or out of the ordinary name, I don't have assumptions and the author can create the character from the ground up.

Let me know in the comments your thoughts on original or just plain out of the ordinary names!


  1. Great post! I have a thing about character names, too. I actually have seen Kestrel a few times, but I love it--it's just a fun name to say. I agree guys names get weirder and weirder, but most of the time I don't mind that as much as names that get WAY overused. For instance, please someone show me an Irish-related book where the main guy's name is NOT Finn or Fin or Phin. Come on, there have got to be more Irish boy names than that. :D

  2. I do like a normal name.
    In the Pure trilogy I had to figure out how to say "pressia".
    I'm up for a weird name.. if I know how to pronounce it, and they give a reason, like Four.

    88dreamers @ Seriesly Reading

  3. I don't mind the weird names, but I sometimes have long discussions about how to say them. There are many that don't have an obvious pronunciation.

  4. I agree 100% with your Hannah theory, which is why I prefer and appreciate different, unusual names for characters. I entered a writing contest once and the biggest complaint from the agents was reading main characters with the same name as a popular novel in the same genre. No one can ever name a character Bella without one associating it with Twilight or Katniss etcetera. I think the easiest way to overcome name redindancy/ familiarity is to have a made up name or something conpletely unusual. And, as a writer, naming your characters is a lot like naming your child. It has to flow with a surname, it has to represent their personality, it has to have specific meaning. Weird or not, you'll remember it, and you'll talk about it. You might even blog about it! And your Kestral won't be just another Hannah (or Tyler or Jake:)

  5. I'm on the fence about unique names, sometimes I love them, and sometimes I don't know how to pronounce them! Even more interesting I think is when we see these unique names popping up on popular baby name lists!

    Emily @ Follow the Yellow Book Road

  6. I think it depends on the books. If they are in fantasy realms, I think it's more realistic to have odd names. But if it's a contemporary novel, I feel like it's much better to have normal, every day names, maybe with one unique name thrown in.

  7. So true though! What happened to the average names?

  8. This was very clever. Thank you for a little humor today. ~Sheri