Let’s Talk bookish – How Important Are Character Names?

Aria @ Book Nook Bits is the new host for Let’s Talk Bookish! If you aren’t following her yet, good check out her blog and give her a follow!

March 10:  How Important Are Character Names? (Hannah @ Hannah’s Library)

Prompts: Are character names important? Should they be very unique, or common enough that most readers will recognize and know how to pronounce them? What makes a character name unique? Do you like character names that have a deeper meaning tied to the story at large? What do you notice about character names in different genres? What are some of your favorite character names? What are some of your favorite characters with the same names?

Welcome to another week of LTB here at DTRH, everyone! Today’s topic really intrigues me, and I’m so glad Hannah suggested it. I do wonder about the names that are chosen sometimes, and I also wonder how much thought is actually put into it on the author’s part. Interested to see what you all have to say about this!

I think character’s names can be really important. Something way too difficult to pronounce (i.e., even read) can sometimes be distracting. On the other hand a name that is too plain may also be not memorable. I don’t think they have to be pronounceable necessarily. But sometimes it does create a connection when a character introduces themselves in the book and even teaches you how to pronounce their name. I’ve always been a fan of that little interaction—it always makes me feel instantly a little bit closer to the main character, which is a quality of a book that I’m always looking for. It doesn’t have to be the most unique name, but certainly something that is fitting can always do wonders.

A character’s name is unique if the author gives it meaning, I think. Otherwise a name is just a name and isn’t that important of a feature. I like names that are generally specifically chosen though, I really do feel like it lends something that is relatable to the reader. Everyone has a name, and most people (I assume) have a thought or two about their name. Knowing the character also has these feelings always gives extra meaning and depth to the character. That being said, in something like thrillers, where there’s lots of suspicious characters that I don’t need to know in depth necessarily, having some easy to remember names and character types can be really helpful in helping me keep track. I definitely don’t need an explanation on all the names of those characters in that setting.

I don’t think the character names have to be tied to the story at large, but I definitely enjoy it whenever they do. Stuff to make a story feel more perfectly planned and executed is always something I admire and enjoy reading, but by no means is it a must. It can be cool to have that kind of foreshadowing though!

I read a lot of thrillers, and certainly the names there don’t matter as much generally—at least in the books I’ve read. And neither do I really care, it’s much more of a plot-driven, or character relationship-driven type of story anyway, rather than an in-depth analysis of a single character. I think in the fantasy genre where there is so much more flexibility with “reality” and what is “commonplace,” that is where I expect more special names with meanings, though again, it’s not absolutely necessary.

Sometimes it’s also not the name, but rather how the character is written that drives the name to be something so powerful. What immediately comes to mind is the name Hatsumomo, from Memoirs of a Geisha, that instantly brings out in me feelings of revulsion, or even the name Bellatrix. I find that these are the names that evoke the strongest feelings in me, even though it’s not really because of the names, but rather of the characters and how they were built and eventually just became the embodiment of their character via their name.

What are some of your favourite character’s names, and why do you like (or hate) them? Let me know in the comments below!


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