“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”
Lolz. Don’t worry. I’m not getting all Shakespearian on you. Could you imagine if I went from reviewing post-apocalyptic dystopian fiction to Shakespeare? Yikes. Anyway. Moving on.
I’ve been thinking about names recently. Character names are so important, in any piece of writing. Sure, Romeo and Juliet would have the same plot, but would it have had the same impact if it had been about Steve and Jemima? Who knows. I’m currently reading City of Heavenly Fire, the last in the Mortal Instruments series (hah, Shakespeare. You thought I had been reading Shakespeare. Hilarious). For all its flaws, the Mortal Instruments series houses my favourite character name ever – Sebastian Morgenstern. Does that name scream “villain” to you, or what? Don’t get me wrong, I have other fictional villains that are a thousand times more terrifying, and I’d be much less happy to run into them in a dark alleyway, but gosh darn it, this one definitely has the best name.
I think I pay particular attention to names because I hate my own. “Clare” is an exceptionally dull name, and yet people are still unable to spell it correctly. Although, apparently, my father was pretty keen on naming me “Gráinne”, Irish for Grace. So I suppose I should count my blessings. I tend to feel that, when it comes to fiction at least, character names shouldn’t be unpronounceable. How can readers obsess and come up with fan theories if they can’t pronounce the character names?
Saying that however, I’ve just remembered how no one knew how to pronounce “Hermione” until the films started pre-production. Even my high school English teacher got it wrong (a shock to my system at the time – teachers making mistakes?!). But of course, come the early noughties (God, I hate that term), the popularity of the name Hermione skyrocketed.
Would it have been as popular if Hermione had been named Megan? Or Fiona? Or God forbid, Clare? I doubt it. Would Sebastian Morgenstern have any appeal if his name was Bob Smith? Who knows. Names are pretty important, Shakespeare. Would your work be as acclaimed if your surname was… Poopface? Okay, so I suck at making up names (see my Sims for details). Sue me. Or don’t. Whatever.
Maybe I’ll change my name one day. Hermione Morgenstern? Perhaps, perhaps.