Whoa! A discussion post on a Wednesday?! What is this sorcery? [Shameless plug] I'm revealing a THRONE OF GLASS inspired song on Friday which is why the dates are switched. After this week, Out of Time resumes with its regularly scheduled programming.
In another discussion post, I mentioned that a lot of characters I know have really odd names. For example, I don't think I've ever met a Celaena. Nor have I ever met a Penryn. Okay fine, these books aren't set in our time/world but in that post, I questioned whether in the future, our names would change into those.
Today, I wanted to talk about the idea of character names as a whole. Do they matter?
If I say, her name was Cassie. She had a bright smile and eyes that weren't quite focused like she was still wandering in a dreamland, do you picture someone in specific? What color are her eyes? What color is her hair?
Would it differ then, if I gave the exact same description but said that her name was Natasha?
For me? I would picture Cassie as the character from the tv show Skins [whose name IS Cassie] because that's who the description is based on. But if you haven't watched Skins, who would you imagine? If her name was Natasha, I would picture a girl that I know in real life who looks nothing like Cassie from Skins.
I was thinking that maybe we put people we know in real life of the same name in the place of characters because I certainly do that when I can. It makes for a very interesting experience most of the time. It's like my friends are part of the novel. But sometimes, that method can go really wrong and unfortunately, it changes my feel of the book.
If the main's character name was Nova [or Amelia], I probably wouldn't want to read the book. It just feels weird seeing your name in a book but it isn't you. I can't describe it. I think it goes either way - you either love it or you think it's weird. The weirdest part would be if "Nova" had a love interest. I would be like... am I supposed to ship... myself? I don't think I would be able to appreciate the romance at all and would just be like... okay then.
Recently, I just saw the movie, PROM, and the good girl x bad boy storyline happened with the girl being Nova and I kind of just sat through it. I felt nothing even though I probably should. Good girl x bad boy is one of those tropes that are annoying but I love. Unfortunately, because of the name, I just sat there. Awkward.
But the thing is that this is a personal problem. I'm sure some of you don't think of anything when you hear the name Peter. So what names do you have a problem with, if you have any?
While character names don't affect the personality [necessarily], I think that they're very important. Even with a description of a character, the way we see them is always based on the person reading and that's what I think is really cool.
Character names are so we don't have to go, "that one" or "this one." Without them, how would anyone be able to keep track of anyone? But what's the process that goes into naming a character? Is it the same process as naming a child? I'd like to think that character names take a lot of thought but really, when I started my novel, I just picked names that I liked. [For last names, I googled last names that fit with the character's nationality.]
So yes, to me, character names do matter. They change the experience if they're the wrong name for me or if they're the name of one of my favorite actors. Either way, reading is an experience that's different for everyone so these names matter different depending on the reader.