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Melanii
05-20-2015, 10:35 PM
I finally started getting around writing the book that my childhood friend gave me full reigns on, that we've been planning for about 15 years. Back then, we were teens and sometimes we gave our characters silly names. Like Zync or Illenia, in a contemporary setting. Who names their kid Zync? Even in urban fantasy? No one, that's who.

There are several characters I realize I have to change their names.

But I feel so attached to their names now, even if the main characters are a string of Illenia, Jewel, Caillou, and Zync. Too weird.

Have you ever tried giving the character a different name, and then feel like it's a totally different character? There's like, something about names that is part of them. If I called Illenia "Ashley", I feel as if she's not the same anymore.

Am I alone in this? XD

*sigh* Calling Caillou "Kyle", the closest thing to his original name, is so weird. ><

I wonder if there's a name site that has something that when you input a name, it has a section like "similar to..." and gives a list. o.o

StoryofWoe
05-20-2015, 10:55 PM
I recently had to do this for a short story and yeah, it felt weird. I try not to become too attached to anything in particular during the drafting stage, though I really, really like the names I've chosen for my two POV character's in the novel I'm currently working on, so clearly I don't always follow my own advice. If I have to change a name, I try and pick something that sounds or feels similar to me. Regardless of what it is, I have to like it.

For what it's worth, I think Jewel and Caillou are both great names. Zync and Illenia might be a trickier sell, but they're still pronounceable.

I often use babycenter.com (http://www.babycenter.com/baby-names) to brainstorm. There's a little "Related" tab for each name, as well as origin and meaning info, plus alternate spellings. Worth checking out.

Sage
05-20-2015, 11:05 PM
When I have to change the name of my character, I work really hard to find something that fits the character and also feels the same to me as the original name. If Illenia doesn't feel like an Ashley, don't go with Ashley.

(has no problem with Zync)

lianna williamson
05-20-2015, 11:13 PM
I have no problem with any of those names individually-- it's when the whole cast has self-consciously cool names that it feels contrived (in a contemporary, at least).

I recommend picking the character who feels most tied to his or her name, and keeping it. (But not Caillou, because that will forever be the horrible whiny children's TV character. :P) Then look for names that have a similar feel to the original name. I can see how Illenia doesn't feel like an Ashley, but could she feel like an Iliana? An Elena? Could Jewel be Jule, short for Julia? Could Zync be a nickname he gave himself because his real name is Courtney or something?

Myrealana
05-20-2015, 11:44 PM
I decided to change the names of most of my characters from the time when they were conceived, and it was hard, especially for the MC.

As I wrote the story, the new names grew on me until they became the characters.

I think if you just go with it for a while, the characters and their names will come together.

VeryBigBeard
05-21-2015, 12:06 AM
This is one of those things I am totally irrational and unrepentant about. I'm pretty pragmatic when it comes to plots, character development, setting, etc. I'll change all of it. I'll rewrite a whole chapter to tweak the tone. I cannot touch names. I just go completely out of my mind.

Unhelpfully, I'm also in love with the Aerith and Bob trope (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AerithAndBob). More helpfully, it's fairly common. I did some of the names in my current WIP with a bunch of accents, which are a real problem to deal with at just about every stage after the first draft. I still haven't got around to changing all of them, and the ones I have changed I've spent hours fiddling with how to get the correct sound to correspond to the character's culture. In other words, I'm spending way too long on the worldbuilding.

I, too, have no problems with your names above. I actually kind of like complicated names, if they're lampshaded occasionally or part of a cultural thing. Having spent some time in Vancouver recently, I can definitely imagine someone naming a kind Zync in some attempt to ensure he's in tune with his inner minerals. Illenia is just a really good, solid fantasy name. Jewel's pretty common even now and Caillou is French. There's even a really popular children's TV show with a Caillou as the titular character.

Go in peace.

Melanii
05-21-2015, 12:22 AM
I knew I wasn't totally alone, lols.

Caillou was original "Kyu", but friends back in the day changed the spelling because of the TV show and I went with it (because 1) I knew nothing of said TV show, and 2) the character is not asian enough for "Kyu").

I might go with Kyle. Kyle McCourt. Used to be Caillou McCourt. It's not too bad, I suppose. o.o

Illenia would be the hardest to change. I might not do it. But then it bothers me only because her little sister has a normal name: Nelly. Or maybe it's not normal. XD

Zync's name was going to change to just be his nickname. Since he's from Russia I gotta find of those. Jewel is probably fine, since her parents are kind of... odd anyway. :P

I have a whole cast to worry about. We went really overboard with names back in the day. Kalliko, Luthe, Sole, Areah...

Wait. I found a document in which I fixed everyone's names except for Illenia and Jewel's. XD Haha.

Gosh, I dunno if I like Kyle.

*mumbles and walks away*

Roxxsmom
05-21-2015, 12:29 AM
I'd argue that the modern world might give us more free reign for strange names than a historical or pre-industrial fantasy setting. It seems to be increasingly common for parents to give their kids names simply because they like the way they sound with no regard to family history or culture. Naming fads seem to come and go more quickly than they once did too. Calliou was a character in a kid's show when my nieces were little, so someone in the US or UK might actually name a kid born around that time, even if they're not of French ancestry themselves.

But it might be strange if every character in a modern setting had a fanciful or improbable name.

Another possibility is to have all the kids' parents part of some counter culture that picks unusual names for their kids, or the kids even just being drawn to one another as friends because they had the "weirdest" names in their class or something.

Usher
05-21-2015, 12:38 AM
I'm not seeing a problem with the names to be honest. I've added whole layers to a fantasy world to keep a name like Angus and added elements to the story that means Socrates has to be Socrates. However some character have changed very easily a Matt became a Nate and I now wonder how he could ever be Matt and a Jim became an Ian and he grew as a character as a result. Actually, Angus was originally Jonathan... ok I can sometimes change names.

Illenia, Jewel, Caillou, and Zync.

Jewel is fine. You male Cailiou - Cail or Cal and maybe Illenia could be Lena or Lenia and Zync - I really like.

Lissibith
05-21-2015, 01:23 AM
I'm not seeing *too* much of a problem with the names either. Maybe a little YA-ish, but if that's what you're going for, no worries.

And me, I'm not terribly attached to names. I've changed the main character's name in a completed book before. but I hear a lot of people saying they have deep attachments to specific names, so I may be the odd one out :)

buz
05-21-2015, 01:49 AM
When you have a character named something for a while it can feel weird to change it, but...one gets used to it, I think. I've changed most of the names in a book after a draft was written, anyway, and the characters were the same ;) It will be all right. I think you'll get used to it, if you pick something you like.

Nymtoc
05-21-2015, 01:57 AM
Why don't you use whatever names feel right, as you write your manuscript? Then, if you decide names should be changed, do a search-and-replace before you send the book out. After making changes that way, the only serious problem would arise when one of your original names happens to be part of another word. Example: I might call a character Nat, and later decide he should be called Izzy. If I use my word processor to change every Nat to Izzy I end up with words like extermiIzzye ,Izzyional, Izzyurally, destiIzzyion, and orIzzye.

However, with the highly original names you want to use, you are unlikely to face such a problem. :greenie

Sage
05-21-2015, 02:04 AM
It's worth noting that if you do the find and replace, do manually hit "replace" for each one instead of doing it globally. Sure, there's probably not a word that has one of those names inside, but it's worth checking anyway. (my worst one was a change from Gus who showed disgust during August; yeah, the global replace was epic). Also, still read it through afterwards, in case you did something weird, like cut off or draw out the name in dialogue. I've been fooled by those as well.

I also will second that once you change the name and edit the novel a few times and a little time has passed, you really do think of those characters by their new name.

Brightdreamer
05-21-2015, 02:20 AM
It's worth noting that if you do the find and replace, do manually hit "replace" for each one instead of doing it globally. Sure, there's probably not a word that has one of those names inside, but it's worth checking anyway. (my worst one was a change from Gus who showed disgust during August; yeah, the global replace was epic). Also, still read it through afterwards, in case you did something weird, like cut off or draw out the name in dialogue. I've been fooled by those as well.

Many word processors have a "whole word only" or "match case" option that cuts down on such mistakes immensely... though they can still have problems with apostrophes (as in "Bob's hat" wouldn't be changed when you change "Bob" to "Joe") and, as you mentioned, altered forms (the whiny drawn-out "But, Bo-oob, why can't I have a cookie?", or the choked off "Run, Bo-!") So, definitely not worth relying on Find/Replace alone. But it does usually save an awful lot of work... when used properly, of course.

As for the OP's names, if Illenia's sis and family have "normal" names (I'm guessing you mean "Standard modern English-speaking middle-class American-sounding names" for your "normal" - not necessarily a given), then, yeah, I'd need an explanation as to why she got the oddball name - though it could happen. (My name's odd, while my sister's is "normal" - Mother was expecting a boy, and was thrown for a loop when I turned out to be a girl. I'm thinking pain meds and lingering anesthesia had something to do with it, too, but I can't prove it...) Same with Zync, unless it's a nickname or derived from initials or an online handle or something. (Maybe his initials are ZNC, and he didn't want to be associated with the element zinc, so he spells it "Zync" when he uses it for e-mail addys and such...)

SBibb
05-21-2015, 04:33 AM
It seems to be increasingly common for parents to give their kids names simply because they like the way they sound with no regard to family history or culture. Naming fads seem to come and go more quickly than they once did too. Calliou was a character in a kid's show when my nieces were little, so someone in the US or UK might actually name a kid born around that time, even if they're not of French ancestry themselves.

Ditto this. During my day job I typed titleblocks for school group pictures, and I've seen some really, really creative names. Names with capitalization in odd places, names with apostrophes in odd places, phonetic spellings vs historical spellings, and some interesting combinations of two names merged together as one. I remember being fascinated by a lot of the names, especially since I hadn't really seen them before. I've even seen names like "Abcde" used for multiple kids. Or siblings who very clearly had parents of certain fandoms (I want to say it was siblings named Mara and Luke... which could have easily been a Star Wars reference).

So, if you play it right, you might not have to change their names. :-)

Hapax Legomenon
05-21-2015, 08:36 PM
"Jewel" is a pretty normal name. You might not see it a whole lot, but naming girls after pretty things, particularly pretty rocks, is common enough that most people would not blink. "Jewel" next to "Zync" might be a little weird unless they're siblings and their parents are geologists or something.

"Illenia" might be a good name for a girl born January 1st, 2000. Otherwise, I'm not sure.

As a personal preference, I wouldn't change Caillou. If you name him Kyle, he might blur together with a bunch of other kyles from forgettable books.

Melanii
05-21-2015, 09:41 PM
Most of these characters are teenagers. So it is an YA book for sure. I'm definitely changing Caillou only because everyone complains about that whiny kid in the show, and I don't want anyone to think of that automatically. XD I could keep it just to make an awesome fictional Caillou, but I dunno. o.o

I like the idea of Zync being derived from the initials ZNC. D:

Illenia will be the hardest, mostly for emotional and personal reasons. Like back in the day, most of these characters came from friends, etc. Illenia was *my* character, so thus, it would be difficult.

It might help that some of these characters come from other countries. Caillou and Zync both come from Europe. Caillou was supposed to be Irish, but his name make him seem French instead. Hahaha... Crap. o.o Zync is from Russia.

Jewel might be from... Her last name is Ariana... Maybe Mexico or something.

I'll keep her name for sure.

LJackson
05-22-2015, 12:28 AM
Nicknames they call themselves, and call each other among friends. Not at all strange for teenagers.

frimble3
05-22-2015, 12:21 PM
FWIW, 'Zync' sounds like something a kid would as make up as a nickname because he though it would look cool when he became a famous musician. With a little 'nothing to remind me of the uncool teenager I am now' going on as well.
As for Illenia, yeah, hard if it was the name you personally picked for her. On the other hand, is it pronounced at all like 'Helenia', which, along with Elenia, sounds like the nearest 'normal' variant? Near enough, in fact, that Illenia sounds not-too-odd (maybe a foreign grandparent with spelling issues?) but only if all her friends don't have unusual names as well.

Jamesaritchie
05-22-2015, 08:13 PM
Well, Jewel is common, and the problem with "Caillou" is that it's already a very well-known name in the world of children's cartoons.

I really don't know whether I'm attached to the names of my characters or not. I give them names, and no editor has ever asked that a name be changed, so it's never been an issue.

bearilou
05-23-2015, 04:58 PM
May I present some of the characters in the UF series The Black Dagger Brotherhood by JR Ward?


Wrath
Rhage
Zsadist
Dhestroyer
Vishous
Phury
Rehvenge
Tohrment
Tehrror
Qhuinn
Blaylock
Xhex
Ehlena
Lash
Xcor
Assail
Murhder

And may I suggest that it's a very popular series?

But I get you. Although my names aren't that far out, I do have characters that I've been calling by names now that I find it very hard to change.

Melanii
05-23-2015, 07:01 PM
What's FWIW? O_O I see that a lot, but never knew what it stood for. XD

Nicknames, work too. I think my friend and I even had the idea that Illenia takes her name from a grandmother. So maybe I can keep it. XD

Jamesaritchie
05-23-2015, 07:39 PM
May I present some of the characters in the UF series The Black Dagger Brotherhood by JR Ward?


Wrath
Rhage
Zsadist
Dhestroyer
Vishous
Phury
Rehvenge
Tohrment
Tehrror
Qhuinn
Blaylock
Xhex
Ehlena
Lash
Xcor
Assail
Murhder

And may I suggest that it's a very popular series?

But I get you. Although my names aren't that far out, I do have characters that I've been calling by names now that I find it very hard to change.


It isn't popular because of the names. I read more reviews about readers who find those names laughably bad than I have about any other series, ever.

morngnstar
05-23-2015, 08:29 PM
I realized I had to change the name of a secondary character because it started with the same letter as the main character's. I might have tried to justify it, but even I used the wrong name from time to time. It was hard, but I've gotten used to the new name. I've thought maybe I should change the MC's name, too. Tanya is a perfectly respectable name in her native Russia, but for Americans it might bring to mind a certain trashy celebrity.

Brightdreamer
05-23-2015, 08:51 PM
What's FWIW? O_O I see that a lot, but never knew what it stood for. XD

FWIW = For What It's Worth.

(Or Furry White Ice Weasel, depending on context...)

CathleenT
05-24-2015, 08:03 AM
I'm not going to comment on your specific names, because I personally need more context to feel like I'm doing it intelligently.

But I will relate an anecdote. I can't specifically source it, but it came out of a reputable book. Tolkien originally named Frodo 'Bingo,' and he later changed it, adopting the name of a minor character instead. (Can't remember if his publisher made him or he did it himself when he saw the tone of the book becoming more serious.) Even though Tolkien admitted it was a good change, it never sat right with him. In his heart, the character was always Bingo.

So you're in good company if name changes never seem to fit, even if they're necessary.

Marian Perera
05-24-2015, 09:18 PM
It isn't popular because of the names. I read more reviews about readers who find those names laughably bad than I have about any other series, ever.

I tried reading one of those books. I enjoyed the heat level, the emotion, the dialogue.

But after a while, the names made it impossible for me to be immersed in the story. I'd be constantly reminded I was reading about characters whom I was supposed to find cool or dark or edgy, and after a while I'd start making up names of my own - Dhiscomfort, Mazokhist, that kind of thing. So I gave up.

Lillith1991
05-25-2015, 11:54 AM
I'd argue that the modern world might give us more free reign for strange names than a historical or pre-industrial fantasy setting. It seems to be increasingly common for parents to give their kids names simply because they like the way they sound with no regard to family history or culture. Naming fads seem to come and go more quickly than they once did too. Calliou was a character in a kid's show when my nieces were little, so someone in the US or UK might actually name a kid born around that time, even if they're not of French ancestry themselves.

But it might be strange if every character in a modern setting had a fanciful or improbable name.

Another possibility is to have all the kids' parents part of some counter culture that picks unusual names for their kids, or the kids even just being drawn to one another as friends because they had the "weirdest" names in their class or something.

Depends on where exactly you're talking about to be honest, and when. Because what names are popular cycled even in the pre-industrial world. Anne, Emma, John, James, Marcus, Rose etc. have been pretty common names for a fair chunk of the last view centuries in England, and later her colonies. But kids still got strange to us names like Asenath, Adamantine, Allegra, Allegorn, Albion, Taliesin, Elbertha etc. much more often then people think they did. I doubt there's ever been a lot of Asenath or Albion's running around, but there's been some, as well as some other odd names.

And this is without focusing on other groups like the French, German, Russian, Indian, or Welsh. They would have similar patterns too, often the names being translations of others or culturally equivalent.

bearilou
05-25-2015, 03:28 PM
It isn't popular because of the names. I read more reviews about readers who find those names laughably bad than I have about any other series, ever.

Which was my point. It isn't popular because of the names. The OP talked about being attached to names and how some may not be mainstream or perceived as normal. Well, neither were Ward's and she's doing alright with the series.


I tried reading one of those books. I enjoyed the heat level, the emotion, the dialogue.

But after a while, the names made it impossible for me to be immersed in the story. I'd be constantly reminded I was reading about characters whom I was supposed to find cool or dark or edgy, and after a while I'd start making up names of my own - Dhiscomfort, Mazokhist, that kind of thing. So I gave up.

Me too. When I realized that the series was heading in the direction of each of Wrath's 'court' getting their own romantic arc, I suddenly grew tired and put the books away.

Albedo
05-25-2015, 05:03 PM
My dilemma is I gave a walk-on character a joke name, and then they went and turned into a bloody protagonist. And I'm too attached to the name to get rid of it, although it's ridiculous. I hate it when characters do that.

VeryBigBeard
05-25-2015, 06:34 PM
I have lost count of all the characters in my favourite books whose names I think are a bit silly.

Funny thing is, I don't think it's ever stopped me reading any of them. Sometimes the silly names are part of the appeal. Slartibartfast, anyone? Or everyone in my high school who ritually mispronounced Hermione when HP first came out?

See this mountain? There's the mole who made it. He wants all the credit, too.

Brightdreamer
05-25-2015, 07:46 PM
My dilemma is I gave a walk-on character a joke name, and then they went and turned into a bloody protagonist. And I'm too attached to the name to get rid of it, although it's ridiculous. I hate it when characters do that.

That kind of behavior is why authors put their MCs through all seven levels of Hell. Repeatedly. ;)

(Reminds me of a story from an old PC game I used to play, with a certain randomness factor that often chewed you up before passing Level 5. I slapped my best player names on time and time again, only to see them die. Finally, I when it told me to Enter Name for yet another run, I just entered "DUHOK" - as in "duh, OK" - and sent my little guy into the maw of Hell. Take a wild guess as to whether or not that little twerp almost won the game, save the computer going belly-up first. Go on, take a guess... Because of that, I avoid the flippant, funny-at-the-time names on any character, game or story. Because you just never know who's going to go the distance...)

Melanii
05-25-2015, 09:39 PM
^^^ What game was that? XD

I have a few random names floating around, and I'm just waiting on the right character to use them on. It won't be this story, since they're more fantasy names, and that the cast is already set. I'm not sure why a new character would appear. Heh.

I used to have a list of names to use, and now I can't find it. Ah wells! Right now I'm debating if I should replace their names NOW or do it later. If I do it now, I'll have a chance to get attached to the new name I think.

Brightdreamer
05-25-2015, 09:58 PM
^^^ What game was that? XD

IIRC, it was Dark Tower, or something along those lines... I believe this was the computer that came after my IBM 8088... the 386? It was on one of those little 3 1/4" floppy disks, so it was some time ago. It was pretty simplistic; you were climbing your way up through a tower maze, and each level had two different, random monster types (this was what could wipe you out early on, if you got a bad monster combo.) My next computer wouldn't run it, because it was too primitive for the system. Still wish I could find a version to play again, though, because I was so danged close to winning. (It also reminded me of one of my all-time favorite Commodore games, Demonstalker - which I also almost won, but kept chickening out on the last level. And now I feel old...)

Usher
05-25-2015, 10:01 PM
Or you could create a reason why they have the names they do - maybe they were drawn together because they have unusual names.

blacbird
05-26-2015, 05:12 AM
For me, as reader, three rules for the writer:

1. Do not use too many ultra-common names. Those can blend into an unholy amalgam of sticky confusion for the reader.

2. Do not use ultra-cutesy symbolic "meaningful" names. Those just plain get silly real quicklike.

3: Do not use names composed of letters in unpronounceable combinations.

caw

John Ayliff
05-27-2015, 09:46 AM
I get attached to names, too, and if I do change them they feel wrong, but eventually I find I'm used to them and attached to the new name. Actually this applies to naming characters in the first place: often no name I pick will feel right for the character until I've used it for a while.

In my novel I was using an asteroid called Isis as the base for my villainous space cops. My publisher asked me to change it (because, since I wrote the novel, ISIS had become a thing), and I picked a new asteroid, but I still think of it as Isis unless I catch myself.

My first draft also had characters named after brands of candy I was snacking on while I wrote, and I always intended to change them, but even so it took me a while to get used to the new names.

Helix
05-27-2015, 02:51 PM
I've got a character called Tasha Krefft and I'll have to change the name because I keep thinking of her as Tash Kent.

(Or I could partner her with Sam R Kand. I dunno.)

oceansoul
05-27-2015, 04:13 PM
I am attached to having 'authentic' sounding names for the places I generate in my writing, but beyond that, not too attached to the names themselves.

In the manuscript I just sold, the protagonist's love interest was initially named Lesley. I changed the name to Kara after one of my CP's said that in the mind of your average teenager 'Lesley the Lesbian' was too cliche/kitchy. That honestly hadn't even occured to me, but I changed it pretty quickly!