How important are the names you give your characters? More important than you might think and here’s some reasons why.
I have written about character names before but a recent discussion with my younger brother made me want to discuss it again. He was complaining about the names given to some of the characters in the Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb. He said that because some of them had names that were also adjectives it made reading the book difficult. He would stumble over sentences where the name could have been used as just a word (I’m paraphrasing – his version had way more swearing.).
Obviously Robin Hobb is a very successful and accomplished writer and I wouldn’t know if this is a complaint she’s ever received from other readers (or if it’s just my brother). But it is something that novice writers should keep in mind. You don’t want the names you choose for your characters to jolt them out of the story.
Multiple names which begin with the same letter or sound similar can also confuse readers. If you have a John, Jerry and Joe in your story it’s understandable that your readers might have trouble remembering who’s who.
Choosing names that fit the setting of your story is also important. An 18th century English housemaid is unlikely to be called Destiny. A housemaid from the planet Zog probably won’t be called Destiny either. The name you give them will help the reader know where they are and what time they’re in. It can even tell them a bit about the characters background.
So, when you name your characters, give it a bit of thought. Your readers will thank you.