I have a theory that a good book is comprised of good names.
You may disagree, but I have seen this theory prove more true than false in my reading; granted, we may not be reading the same books.
That’s what I’m here to talk about, the names in books, very critical in a great story, but sadly overlooked in the light of truly gorgeous covers and very handsome male counter-parts.
Think of your favorite book, the one that tops all the others, or at least the first of your favorites to pop into your mind. Can you remember the characters, not just for their enviable talents, or their many adventuresome ventures, but their names? Of course you can, because they made an impact; they were part of the character, and they mattered.
Now, consider the last book you read that you either didn’t finish or you trudged your way through. What did you think of those names? Can you think of the names? If you can, I bet you detest them, possibly thinking they did nothing to add to the characters’ nature. Or perhaps, you can’t remember them at all.
Time and again authors prove my theory – books with amazing characters, enchanting plot twists and an ending that leaves you satisfied and hopeful have chosen great names for their cast of characters. Books that fall flat have lackluster character names, forgettable from start to finish. Oh wait, I probably couldn’t bring myself to finish!
I do not believe that authors stumble upon these finely honed appellations; no, I believe they go in search of their characters’ names, as a parent does their child’s. Those “other” characters – the ones we forget – I don’t think their authors ever believed in them, not the way they should and it is reflected in their writing. Just because a name exists, doesn’t make it the right name for a character. Availability doesn’t mean a match.
Names from Stephenie Meyers, Twilight Series, and How Pop Culture Can Runneth Over
I know many people are tired of the Twilight phenomenon, but because it is a best selling series with gorgeous names, I hope you can appreciate my new angle.
Did you know that Stephenie originally named Rosalie, Carol? That would have completely changed my view of the character. I don’t think I would have been able to see her as some hot, young, immortal thing; I would have been imagining her as a grandma in a rocking chair the whole time. Some names are just not ready for a renaissance. Jasper was going to be called Ronald; Ronan is cool -- Ronald is Mcdonald.
Meyer was very much in favor of reviving the old and making them new, but I doubt she considered just how new she would make them. From 2008-2009 the name Cullen had the highest leap up the Social Security Administration’s popularity list for babies born in the given year, going from 782 to 485! Isabella claimed the top spot for the first time while Bella lept from 122 to 58. Rosalie entered the top thousand at 840 for the first time ever. Edward, has however, remained solid, the handsome, brooding character hasn’t changed much for this classic male name which hovers outside the top hundred. Emmett, Jasper and Alice continue to climb the charts, and I’m sure we will see even greater jumps in the coming year. Carlisle and Esme are yet to make an appearance on the list, but I believe it is only a matter of time. And as for Renesmee, it will shock, terrify and excite you all to know that 12 baby Renesmee's were born in 2009 in the USA.
These characters have literally walked off the page and into nurseries all across the country. Not even the vampiric connotations could dissuade expectant mommies from these fab monikers. A good name is a good name!
Good books beget great names; names usable outside the fantastical world of literature.
SSA Baby Name Catalogue, follow the link! Fun Fact: 2009 was the first year my full name was in the top 1,000. That's right, first name, middle name, maiden name and nick name, all present and accounted for!
Let me know in the comments which other books or series you would like me to ramble on about!