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View Poll Results: Do you choose unusual or common names for your characters?

Voters
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  • Common names

    1 4.55%
  • Unusual names

    1 4.55%
  • I often use common names, but sometimes choose unusual ones

    3 13.64%
  • I often use unusual names, but sometimes choose common ones

    4 18.18%
  • It depends very much on the character or situation.

    13 59.09%
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    1,045

    Question Unusual names vs Common names

    I am in naming process right now(have to write a story for some reason) and I came up with a question: is naming your character an unusual name better than using common one? Unusual names include rare and made-up ones while common names in my view are not only ones trendy right know, but also familiar and popular names or name fashionable some time ago. Some pros and cons for both categories:
    1. Unusual
    1.1) Unusual names are memorable and make you reader think of the character when they hear the name. E.g. Scarlett O'Hara is the most notable Scarlett(or was until miss Johanson became famous, but she was named after the original).
    1.2) Using a unusual name allow you to choose name by meaning without being afraid it sounds weird. E.g. Severus Snape: Severus means "stern" and sever is a Slavic word for north.
    1.3) On the other hand, some uncommon names may be hard to pronounce or remember, especially if the book is translated. E.g. Scout from "To Kill a Mockingbird" was named Glazastik(means "quick-eyed one") in Russian translation because Russians always think of scout party when hearing this name and would find the name crazy.
    2. Common
    2.1) Common names are easy to spell, read and pronounce. Plus, almost every simple name has a analog in other languages so translating it right makes the name more familiar for foreign readers. E.g. John=Ivan=Hans=Jan etc.
    2.2) Having a common name makes a character more real life-friendly(you can easily imagine him leaving in your neighborhood) and also can make a person less noticeable, if needed. E.g. Christopher Robin, Jo Harper from "The adventures of Tom Sawyer".
    2.3) But at the same time, you character can blend with other or be a contact of your potential reader. E.g. if you name your character Natalie Williams, someone will think of his friend or teacher, singer or a basketball player.

    That's all for now. As for me, I usually use common first name and unusual last. I guess I am in the middle so.
    It also depends on the character's origin. Oceane Leblanc is quite familiar here, but you hardly ever know a person with that name.

    So which do you prefer? Are you a simple name fan, prefer exotic ones or somewhere in the middle? Does it depend?

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