Monday, October 8, 2012

Weird Names

As cold weather sets in and my knees hurt, I get more cantankerous. Just kidding! My knees have constantly hurt since I was like 8, and I’m always cantankerous!

Anyway, remember that post I wrote about words in descriptions that stop me dead in my tracks? I stand by it. Unless I’m told by someone trustworthy that something with a description containing one of these words is awesome, I’m just going to pass it by, because there’s too much stuff to choose from. You have to filter. The word “teenager” is just part of my filter.

Another part of my filter isn’t a specific word, but a class of words. Names. If a character has a wacky or loaded name, I’m going to assume the writer is not writing for me. The most recent example of this was On Unfaithful Wings. I don’t even know why I bother checking Pixel of Ink, honestly.

Anyway, the protagonist of this series of books is named Icarus Fell. Really? REALLY?

Boom, I know this author's aesthetics are totally contrary to mine and I don’t need to bother reading this.

1. The protagonists parents were Juggalos, named their poor child something stupid thinking it profound and this haunts the protag for life. That would be awesome, actually. I’d even read a serial killer story about someone driven to murder by being named Lotus Carnival Smith.
2. The protag has a silly nickname. That’s fine, especially if there’s a good reason. For instance, Judas Coin is a great name for the heavy metal protag of Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box, because it’s not his real name.
3. The book has an absurd/tongue-in-cheek/silly/over-the-top/whateverwhatever vibe. But being dead serious with a ridonk name isn't cool.

What I don’t believe is that normal parents named their child something badass that also happens to coincide with events in their dark future.

Need more proof? Let’s go on averages. Look at the average of normal names to wacky names in contemporary fiction by adults (contemporary because I’m not talking about names in works set in the far past nor future). Then go look at the average at Wattpad, a writing site filled with teenage writers (who I’m sure will progress past this, no diss to them, but they prove a point). Just a sample of the names of characters in the top paranormal stories on wattpad:
Aramis Rayne
Audrina Knight

I’m tired of talking about this. To summarize, silly names are silly. Always default to whatever is less stupid.


  1. I haven't read her latest book, I but I hope Ms. Rowling learned the "default to whatever is less stupid" lesson by the end of the Harry Potter series. How many times, I wonder, as she worte the later books, did she wish she had chosen better than "Severius Snape" or "Albus Dumbledore"? Or, for the love all that's holy, "Luna Lovegood". =)

    1. I hadn't thought of that. I'm sure that as the tone of her books changed, she wished that some of the names weren't so silly.

  2. I quite like John Self in 'Money'...

    1. I haven't read it, but it sounds like it's kind of satirical, which I would include in the type of writing in which wacky names are okay. Because the nature of satire is that it's always calling attention to the fact that it's fiction.

      My problem is when I'm trying to suspend disbelief and lose myself in the story (which is growing ever more difficult), and some recurring name involving heavy-handed symbolism keeps reminding me that it's all fake.

  3. I'm sorry Mr Ryker but you are far too young and lovely to be cantankerous!!!

    1. Awwww, thanks!

      I only wish it were true. I'm rotten at my worm-eaten core.

    2. The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote, "Stink, stank, stunk!" Oh wait, I think that's The Grinch.

  4. Oh. Just remembered Hiro Protagonist from "Snow Crash". Though, suggesting that as a silly name (or otherwise implying a criticism of the novel) might be considered blasphemy in some circles.