I love names. I like learning what they mean, who or what they’re inspired by, why a parent chose one moniker over another, and understanding the sociologial impact a certain name leaves in its wake.
That said, damn if I don’t have the hardest time coming up with character names. And clearly, other writers do, too.
I am reading a delightful new YA book right now. But it has a big problem (for me): the character names are KILLING me. 90% of them – truly, I counted – are simple, vanilla, 1-2 syllable, well-known but almost old-fashioned names. Worse yet, they are interchangeable, with the exception of the narrator.
It’s so bad that I find myself mixing up the characters and having to check back in chapter 1 to see who’s who. Jack* is Jim* is Bill* is Steve* and I keep forgetting whether Debbie* is the protagonist or antagonist, and whether she’s friends or enemies with Mary*. And further, the book takes place in present day, in a high school. Now, I’m no expert on names, but I can almost guarantee that all the names used went out of fashion, on average, 30 years ago. Which means the characters’ parents would probably not have chosen these names for their kids, who were supposedly born in the 90s.
I hate that the names are sort of ruining the book for me, but I’m finding it difficult to look past them. And that’s a damn shame, because the book is adorable so far.
*not the real character names, but hopefully you get the idea.