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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Soapboxing: What's in a name?

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It's that time of the month again and this question was inspired by one of Stéphanie's reviews from last month, when she talked about one of J. R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood books. It's a series that I used to read but I eventually abandoned, not because of the storylines or the worldbuilding but because I couldn't deal with the way she names her characters. Specifically, my main issue is the way that she spells all of their names and, to be fair, it's an issue that I had from the outset of the series. I was cool with a name like Wrath -- it's no stranger than Barrons or any host of other characters -- but things really started to go downhill when I realised his merry band of brothers had ridiculously spelled names. I have no objections to giving characters unusual names but, as someone dislikes it when people substitute "z" for "s" for stylistic purposes, it's probably no surprise that names like Rhage, Vishous, and Zsadist aren't my favourite. But I was willing to go along with it since I thought the characters and stories were so interesting. But then we started getting into names like Xcor or s'Ex and I'm done. I appreciate that the names are treated as completely normal internal to the series but I hit a point where I found them so distracting that I couldn't keep reading the series. (Sorry, BDB fans, I had to come clean on this.) 

Unnecessarily strange spelling isn't the only thing that challenges my ability to continue with a series. You may remember that one of my quibbles with PEACEMAKER was that the protagonist's name was Virgin. I found it unnecessarily distracting. Again, I have no issue with unusual names: one of my favourite series is Sierra Dean's Secret McQueen books and it's a kind of ridiculous name, which Secret/Dean uses to great comic effect at certain points in the series. "Secret Rain", anyone? And maybe that's why I love it so much. Dean acknowledges that Secret's name is a bit wacky and a potential point of teasing. This is one of those cases where a somewhat ridiculous name is just part of the story. It's the same with Buffy, one of my favourite shows. And yes, Buffy isn't a tough name but it's also a little tongue-in-cheek and the writers make a point of sending it up every once in a while, including in the pilot. (Remember the Aphrodisia moment?)

I'm sure there are lots of other examples about naming gone awry (or at least off the beaten path) but I'm going to throw it out to you guys now.

 What's your take on unusual names?
Share your best and worst names in the comments.

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Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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4 People left their mark' :

  1. In general, I love weird names. I love the name Celeana Sardothian from Throne of Glass! The only time I REALLY don't like a name is when it's boring. There was a male protagonist named John in one of my books, and I could barely stand it!

  2. It's terrible to take it too far. It sounds like Ward didn't put much thought in how they all sounded together. Also, I can't stand cheesy names. I groaned out loud at America Singer's name in The Selection. Ugh. So bad.

  3. I don't like names that are too unusual and hard to pronounce. Characters should be a little relatable, even in fantasy heh.

  4. Hi! I could have sworn I've visited this website before but after looking at some of the posts I realized it's new to me.
    Anyhow, I'm certainly happy I found it and I'll be bookmarking it and checking back often!