As I begin planning out my major revision for my fantasy-esque novel, I’m being forced to crack down on my characters, and their names. I blogged once before on naming characters, and it looks like I’m going to have to follow my own advice.
The issue I’m having is that my story takes place in a fantasy world (or rather, post-fantasy, since no one has seen or heard of anything magical for over 500 years). Do I give my characters fantasy names?
Right now I feel like I’m an even half-and-half. Half of them bear either unusual or made-up names (Ilex, Tamsin, and Pharecles), while the others have fairly common names (Tristan, Teddy, and Derrin).
Books like Lord of the Rings, Graceling, and Eragon consist mainly of ‘fantasy’ names (Frodo, Raffin, and Ajihad), but do they take away from the story? My mother, to whom I recommended the Eragon books, couldn’t get past the first chapter, and handed it back over with complaints that the complex pronunciation of character and place names took away from the story. I can see her point, but the flipside is that it authenticates this new, alien, and unknown world. You can’t create a novel about a dragon rider called Kevin (which was what Christopher Paolini originally called Eragon in his earliest drafts), no matter how great a name Kevin is.
I thought it’d be great to have your extremely educated and valued opinions on this matter. Which of the following applies to you when you’re reading a fantasy-esque novel?
A) Fantasy names authenticate the reading experience — the stranger the better!
B) I enjoy fantasy names as long as they are easy to pronounce.
C) It doesn’t matter — all that matters is that the characters are memorable.
D) Other. Please elaborate.
Also remember that tonight the Queen will be declaring the London 2012 Olympic Summer Games officially open! I’ll be watching events over the Games, with my pen poised, ready to snatch up any interesting athlete names!