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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    2,073

    How do you feel about unisex names on characters?

    Or for that matter, boy names on girl characters?

    I only ask because I was talking to a friend about books, and she said she'd recently read one that had the main character as a girl named Rory, and it had confised her because she'd started reading it thinking Rory was a boy until a couple of chapters in, as it's an all-boy name in the UK. It got me thinking about what other books have unisex named characters or boyish names on girls, and whether it's the sort of thing a reader would like or not.

    On one hand it's an accurate reflection of society - there are boys and girls out there named Alex, Taylor, Sam, Riley etc, and I imagine a reader would understand that and accept an Alex as either a male or female character quite readily. But for a name that is primarily used on one gender, is it just strange to read a situation where it's used on the other, even if it's just a nickname? Like a Maxine going by Max throughout the book, even though Max is much more commonly given to boys, either as a full name or nickname (Maxwell etc).

    And have you ever used a unisex/cross-gender name in a story, and what reaction has it got?

    Anna Katherine * Lydia Ellen * Zoe Madeleine * Phoebe ___ * Imogen ___ * Emilia ___
    Samuel * Thomas * Charlie * Reuben * Oliver * George


  2. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    England
    Posts
    187
    I personally feel it depends entirely on the setting and how you present it. I read maximum ride - where the main character is a female Max and to be honest I could never get it into my head that she was a girl! However I enjoy reading books where girls are given modern surname names (like Sutton) or books in older setting where a girl may be called Georgiana but rebels and get calls George. However in sci-fi/dystotopia books where characters may have unique names (think Katniss!) I think it is simply unnecessary to call a girl Charlie and never really explain the meaning.

  3. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    1,178
    I think unisex names may be very good for tomboyish girls or not masculine guys. They line their characteristics but, of course, can may confusion.
    But if you don't need it, use feminine names for girls and handsome for boys so it will make the reading easier.
    ● Olympia ● Literature Student

    Constance AmySibyl HelenaTabithaEmmeline Twila Liv
    Atlas Rupert Otis Grover Casimir Nathaniel Ignatius Robin

  4. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Planet Earth
    Posts
    574
    It confuses me in books but not in real life, which is why I don't like it.
    ~Mehri

  5. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    658
    I could care less.
    I have a character in a story that I am currently writing, whose name is Dylan, and yup the character is a girl.
    Her best friend is the narrator so I wanted to use something feminine/traditional to counterbalance Dylan, so I went with Audrey.
    It entirely depends on the character. If I have a computer geek boy for a character, I like to use something common and traditional like Will or Chris just to reinforce that he is a boy. The same way I wouldn't use Max for a tomboy girl. I feel there should be some reassurance of the character's gender, but I wouldn't use something uber-feminine like Elizabeth. I would meet in the middle and choose something like Christina.


    I'm officially crazy. Sorry for that blob of idk.
    -Alexis-
    teen berry

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