Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Picking a name

Writer Wednesday

This post was going to be about the importance of taking a break from writing and reading... but instead I'm opting to rant about character names.

I've been doing a lot of reading lately and you know what I've noticed, a trend that female characters have outrageously stupid names.

What ever happened to names like, Jen, Elizabeth, Stacy?  These names no longer exist in YA.  And yes I'm sure you're going to give me a HUGE list of exceptions. 

Look I've never meet a Delilah.  In ten years of teaching I've only taught one Jasmine.  I've never once encountered a Sparkle.   (No these aren't names of characters in books I've read, but you ALL know what I'm talking about.)

I hate reading a book and thinking, "I know I'm supposed to like you but I don't know how to say your name."

What I'm a little sick of is female characters who have non traditional names to make up for the fact that she's not very interesting. 

Her name is Bella because she's pretty! 

Honestly it speaks to a lack of originality and the writer's lack of confidence in herself.  It's like saying, "No listen to me, my character is cool because her name is totally original.  She's named after a bird, because she's LIKE A BIRD... GET IT?!?!?!

Yes I get it.  Please stop.

A character's name should be well thought out and reflect something about the character without leaving any sense of reality.  Yes traditional names like Jen are being pushed out of the way for names like Jordan, but still, unless your character's parents were hippies, your character should NOT be named Flower. 

Make your characters interesting, taking a traditional idea and turn it on its head.
A jock who is afraid of the number six.
Cheerleader who wants to discover Dark Matter
Class President who hates public speaking
A geek who has never seen Star Wars

Oh and go to Baby Naming websites, search the year your character was born and PICK ONE OF THOSE NAMES. 

Your character is what should stick out in your reader's mind, not they're cheesy name.

What's your least favorite name in YA today? 


  1. Avoid alliterative names. They are no fun. If you are really desperately looking for a name, I've always felt that "Sheldon Tingle" needs a short story written about him. Possibly, one about his fear of milk, and how he becomes attached to a Dutch milkmaid/daughter-of-a-cheesemaker, while he is forced to work in a small Dutch village. (He is in a small Dutch village because his great-grandfather is teaching him the secrets of growing tulips.) This is my back up story in case a teacher assigns a creative writing and I am unable to think of something.

    P.S. I am really interested in your blog. After I responded to your birthday question, I went snooping around and realized how great it was.