Let’s Talk Bookish: Character Names

Hello, and happy Saturday! Next week is finals, and I’ve had a ton of music stuff this week, which has meant I’ve been very busy lately. I am super excited for this week’s LTB topic – it’s all about character names, and I had a ton of fun writing it. So, let’s get into the post!

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly bookish meme created by Rukky @ Eternity Books and has been hosted by me since April 2022! Each Friday, there is a discussion topic for bloggers to write about. This week’s topic is how important are character names? suggested by Hannah @ Hannah’s Library!

This is also my 500th post here on Book Nook Bits – right after I posted this wordpress sent me a little notification announcing that, and I had to add it in here! I’m pretty excited about that, and I can’t believe that I’ve written 500 posts!!

Anyways, onto the post:

Are character names important? Should they be very unique, or common enough that most readers will recognize and know how to pronounce them?

Yes and no – character names aren’t the only things that are important about a character, but I do think that they do carry some weight in a book. Sometimes, a cool character name will stand out to me from a back cover or a synopsis, and it will make me more interested in picking up a book.

And they definitely make books more memorable – good character names are often easier to remember than more common or generic names. But there also isn’t anything wrong with using a more common name – if the character has good depth and development, than they’ll still stand out

Luke Castellan – art by Viria

I think that there’s a nice medium when it comes to how unique a name should be. Sometimes, names that are chosen just for their uniqueness can be hard to pronounce, or confusing to the reader.

Luke Castellan, from the Percy Jackson series is a very memorable character. Luke isn’t a particularly unique name, and although his last name, Castellan is, it’s not referred to as much in the books. What really makes Luke memorable is the way he’s written, and his character arc through the books.

Pekka Rollins, a character from Six of Crows is a more unique name – you’re a lot less likely to meet a Pekka than you are to come across a Luke.

Pekka Rollins and Luke Castellan are both great, complex characters, and their names are both pretty memorable.

So I don’t think character names have to be especially common or unique: it’s fun when they are, but what’s most important is good character development!

What makes a character name unique?

A unique character name is a name that is less common, and less well known. Unique names often have a connection to the story, or the character’s personality. Or they have some connection to the character’s family or background, or where they’re from.

Unique names have their pros and cons, and if one’s going to be used then I think it’s really up to the author to pick a unique name that works with the story!

Do you like character names that have a deeper meaning tied to the story at large?

Definitely! It can be a really cool way for characters to connect with the story, and I think it brings a lot of meaning to the character’s name. It’s not necessary, but I do love when character names do have a deeper connection or meaning to the story as a whole.

It’s also neat when the significance of a character’s name isn’t revealed until you’re in the middle of the book, and it’s like you get this whole other glimpse of the character and the symbolism of their name.

What do you notice about character names in different genres?

In contemporary fiction, character names tend to be more common names, like Maya, or Jane, or a name that fits with present day trends. Historical fiction names usually fit the time periods they’re set in, which definitely makes sense!

Dystopian and sci-fi books usually have more futuristic sounding and overall less common names, like Katniss, which is not a common name, or Cinder from the Lunar Chronicles, which sounds more tech-y and matches the character and her story.

And fantasy books, especially high fantasy (set in fictional worlds) have the most unique names, I think. Which sometimes can be good, and sometimes can be confusing. Lots of added letters and syllables and wacky pronunciations can be hard to grasp, but unique names can also be more memorable, and make a fantasy world stand out even more.

What are some of your favorite character names?

Nina Zenik

Leigh Bardugo, author of Six of Crows and other Grishaverse books does an amazing job with character names. In Six of Crows, the main characters are Kaz Brekker, Inej Ghafa, Wylan Van Eck, Jesper Fahey, Nina Zenik and Matthias Helvar.

None of these names are extremely long or complicated, but they’re all very recognizable, and sound very unique.

Roshani Chokshi also has great character names.

Séverin – Art by Nicole Deal

Aru Shah is the main character of Aru Shah and the End of Time and the rest of Chokshi’s middle grade Pandava quintet. She has a short and memorable name, that seems to really fit her!

Séverin Montagnet-Alarie, Hypnos Leclair and Zofia Boguska from the Gilded Wolves all have names that fit the 1880s time period of the book, the characters’ backgrounds and their personalities.

Alliterations in names is also fun –

Holling Hoodhood from The Wednesday Wars, by Gary Schmidt is a fun example of that. I haven’t read the book in years but that’s a hard name to forget!

Aiden Acharya, also from the Aru Shah series is another example of this!

This week’s posts:

Jillian @ Jillian the Bookish Butterfly | Fives @ Down the Rabbit Hole | Raji @ Worlds Unlike Our Own | Hannah @ Hannah’s Library | Leelynn @ Sometimes Leelynn Reads

Do you like unique character names? What makes a name unique? What are some of your favorite character names? Chat with me in the comments below!

6 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish: Character Names

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