Unique names – memorable or annoying?

Let me first say that I don’t want to come off as a hypocrite – many of my characters have strange unique names, however, I do strive mostly for balance in my fictional naming conventions.  At the moment, I think the appropriateness level of dynamic names is directly proportional to the genre.

For example, in a Regency romance novel, I would expect the male lead to be no less than a Duke or Lord.  Additionally, his name would be something hyper-masculine – and I wouldn’t blink an eye.  Seriously, his first name could be ‘Danger’ and I would think, ‘Yeah, he does seem like a danger.’  In the past, I’ve not run across any stand out name of the protagonist of these novels, mostly because they are set in a very specific time period and it wouldn’t be the place to see some non-Anglo name.  Ladies like, Caroline, Elizabeth, Danielle all seem in character for the setting.

In the book I’m reading currently (which I will be doing a review of at a later date, as it relates to one of my topics of interest), I keep getting tripped by their names.  Literally, every character has something unusual.  Farris, Devon, Beelah, Emerson, Theron.  Okay, Emerson’s not that bad, but the rest…  I’ve been reading YA for a long time, and unless this is some dystopian future, characters are allowed to have normal names (even if there is some paranormal element ).

And then I realized, really, I am not any better.  And probably, this author loves her strangely named characters as much as I love mine.

Case in point?

Rigby Sullivan, upcoming protagonist of book I’m going to release in the next two weeks (twin brother’s name?  Jude.  Yes, I went there).

Ned “North” Buchanan, love interest.

Additionally, the Fates project is a bit out of control: Ayah (this name has a lot of meaning, so I’m not changing it), Zephyr and Giovanni Voltaggio, Alasdair Worthington, Jude St. Clare, Dr. Ignacio Jimenez to name a few.  I guess what I’m struggling with here is, I don’t want my future readers to be turned off in the same way I am currently.  At the moment, I don’t feel very connected to the characters I’m reading about.  That could be as a result of the writing, but also in a ‘seriously, every time I see that name I cringe a little’ way.

And clearly, resorting to crazy names isn’t necessary to success.  There are some great (fictional) names out there which, in all reality, are pretty basic:  Harry Potter, Robert Langdon…even Katniss Everdeen has a bit of a ‘normal’ ring to it.

What say you?  What names have you come across that you have liked or hated?  How did it impact your enjoyment of the novel?

What are your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s