HomeReviewsInterviewsStoreABlogsOn Writing

The names. Yeah, really. Because of some of the stupid effing names of the fictional places, and the fictional characters.

The blurb below is a great example methinks.

Fionn helped save Yadderwal proper, but can he save the world for one woman?

Book II Yadderwal Balance

Lord Fiontenhal Banaghal Gellert, the thirteenth Marquis De LaRounge, heir to Numarea is a gifted alchemist who has just helped save the planet. Tannah ust Nairn, who is held captive by the vile soul stealer Keegan, is his soul mate.

Keegan has promised Tannah her freedom if she does what she is toldβ€”give herself to him, become his. Linked through their dreams, Fionn goes in search of Tannah, promises to save her from a fate worse than death But will their love be enough? Can he find her in time and keep his Whispered Promise?

Ok, the above book is from Samhain.

First of all, the book is set in a place called Yadderwal. Now, would that be Yad-er-wal or Yadd-a-wall?

And the hero? Fiontenhal Banaghal Gellert. Now would that be pronounced Fin-te-nal or Fee-on-ten-hal? Ban-a-gawl or Ban-a-gal?

And the heroine? Tannah ust Nairn. Now would that be Tan-ar or… You get the picture right?

Now I’m pretty anal about trying to get the pronunciation of words and names right in my mind, so it drives me crazy, when I come across unnecessarily complicated names in romance books. I absolutely hate it. I think this is one of the reasons why I’m not too partial to historical books set in Ireland or Scotland.

If you not only have complex world building, but you also have ridiculous names that are difficult to pronounce, guess who wont be reading your book anytime soon?

Yeah, that’s right. Yours fucking truly.

Rant over.


  • This one isn’t that bad. Try one where every name has an apostrophe. T’om, D’ick, and H’arry.

    Or one where every other word is capitalized. He Changed. She Saw. His special Sight allows him to See Through her Magic Dress and admire her Glow. He seeks his Soulmate and she feels his Life Bond.



  • Exactly why my heroes in my paranormals are called Michael, Sandro (from the Italian Alessandro), and I’ve got one coming up called John. But I write about characters set in our world, so I’m allowed.

    Sigh. Yes, it’s true what you say. And all those apostrophes. I blame Anne McAffrey, because Tolkein didn’t use them. I can do Tolkein, because Aragorn and Boromir are fairly self-explanatory. But any book that starts something like, “Th’g’nar laid down his iru’uthis and stared at the advancing hordes of the Wo’rtj’nu” has me returning the book to the shelf. I just can’t hack it.
    And those names? I closed my eyes and typed at random, then inserted an apostrophe or two. I think most of them have a vaguely Celtic origin, so if these authors ever take a trip through Wales, they’ll probably find a few of the places they write about, while the rest of us puzzle about pronounciation. We nearly crashed the car once, DH and I, arguing about how to pronounce Llysfaen, which is a place on the way to Llandudno.


  • lol. The thing is, it’s hard to write about write about a being from another planet and name them Buffy and Dave. But, yeah, names more long the lines of Spock, Darth, Tuvok–in terms of being uncomplicated–might be the better choice.


  • And is that pronounced Sam-hane, or Sam-hine? πŸ˜‰


  • It’s my understanding that it’s pronounced ‘Sall-en.’ But of course, I haven’t a clue. I admit to a fondness for silly names. I have characters named Poppy and Daisy, but try to avoid unpronounceables because they annoy me too.


  • I think it’s pronounced “SAH-win.”

    You know, sometimes an author might THINK a name is easily pronounceable, and then it isn’t. (Clearly not in the above cases, though.)

    I have a secondary character in my paranormal series (all the other names are pretty normal) named Gemma. To me, that’s “JEM-ma.” Gem as in gem! I never thought anything about it. And yet, my CP (who didn’t read the first book she appeared in ahead of time) and my editor use the hard G when talking about her…drives me nuts! I’m kicking myself for not spelling it Jemma, but to me, that looked too much like Jemima of the pancakes. I guess I should have named her Jenna or something. Live and learn. She’s appeared in three books now, so it’s too late to change.


  • Actually, it’s Sow-ween in the Scots Gaelic.

    And I really dislike typing apostrophes when I have to, why in bloody h*** would I want to have to type them over and over for 100K words?

    I love paranormal, I write paranormal, both contemp and historical, but please! They all take place on earth!

    Can you tell I’m not a SF/UF/F kind of reader? I read Tolkein in grade school, that was enough for me and those I could pronounce.


  • MD
    October 22
    4:29 pm

    I am so totally with you on that. Any book I pick up that has those meandering names–the names that look pretty but cannot be said aloud–or, worse, names broken up with apostrophes–those books go right back on the shelf or, if ebook, I pass them by. There are plenty of other good books that don’t try to drown me with overwrought character naming. I’m not going to waste time messing with Takana’sael’ethiw’ellynia and her crowd. Blech.


  • I’m guessing Highlands romance doesn’t work for you either.

    I agree — not just with the names, but sometimes the worldbuilding gets in the way of the story (too many proper nouns, period), and this is one example of that.


  • Oh, now, did you have to pick on Kally Jo? I liked that book a lot.

    My guess is you don’t hang with people who speak Klingon…for as many people as hate those names, there are those who expect them.

    Now when you need a damned companion dictionary to the place names, people, and creatures–that’s where I draw the d’leign.


  • Oh, Bless you Karen, and all you others too! I thought it was only me that had these problems. Seriously, it’s like OCD sometimes because I’ll try different pronunciations every time the name appears which keeps taking me right out of the story. I would LOVE a pronunciation guide, however I’m afraid that the inclusion of one would just mean that the author would see it as the go-ahead to go wild with the unpronouncable names.

    Listen, I LOVE a good kilted hero, but I swear I still have to stop and figure out how to pronounce half the names and words. Although at least with the Scottish historicals, I have a chance of being able to look them up as opposed to the epic fantasies where the words originated in the writer’s imagination.

    And since some others who’ve commented also brought it up, let me join the chorus in saying that one of the reasons I do not like reading Sci-Fi is because of those Ph’Ucked-Up A’Postrophe names. GAK!


  • Emmy
    October 22
    7:46 pm

    THANK YOU!!! Bucked up names aren’t cute for either book characters or real people, so quit writing them, and for gawd’s sake don’t name your kid some mezzed up discombobulated horror of a moniker.

    One of my first memories of bucked up names was in Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain series. How the frick do you say Eilonwy or Ffleuddur Fflam??? Why you gotta confuse 2nd grader kitteh like that, huh?


  • Marianne McA
    October 22
    8:03 pm

    Same thought, expressed as a graph.



  • I’ve seen that graph before, thought it was hysterical. Probably because it is so my thoughts on the whole thing. I have to admit though, my grandparents spoke Gaelic (they were Highlanders) and I can still understand it though I really have no one to speak it with anymore so those don’t throw me as much.

    But the ones based on Pluto…OY!


  • Wendy
    October 22
    9:32 pm

    Come on you lot. Pull up your big girls’ drawers and get on with it. Poor you, you have missed out on Miles Vorkosigan, the greatest non-mutant almost dwarf character of all.


  • If an author is going to use unusual names, she ought to at least spell them in such a way that the pronunciation is relatively clear, or have a pronunciation guide at the front of the books detailing the major things like “dh”s and stuff.


  • Denise
    October 22
    10:25 pm

    Since I read a lot more fantasy than romance in my youth, the whole funky name spelling doesn’t bother me. I also majored in Russian in college, so consonant combinations you might never see in English are par for the course. Makes for easier reading of the challenging naming convention you see in fantasy/fantasy romance. : )

    I can see where someone finds it frustrating to read names with bizarre spellings and questionable pronunciations. I have the same reaction to J.R. Ward’s cheesey use of the letter “h” in her protagonists’ naming protocol. I couldn’t read the first book beyond the first couple of chapters just because of it. Lots of folks don’t mind it (obviously, considering the woman’s sales record); I’m not one of them.


  • Hmm…I write paranormal/fantasy/sci-fi romance, and I don’t do any of that stuff.

    Am I doing something wrong? ::blinks::

    If I’m reading along in a book and I hit a name I can’t immediately figure out, my mind just refers to the character by the first initial and keeps on chugging. πŸ™‚


  • Oh, crap, that’s always driven me crazy! I honestly cannot muddle through books laden with gobs of oddball names, especially two- or three-part names . . . for people, places, things, animals, whatever. It bothers me — I’m sure I’ve missed out on some great fantasies — but the pain of constantly stumbling just isn’t worth the effort.

    It’s kind of like walking through a dark forest and continually running into tree trunks and stubbing your toe on rocks and getting scratched by thorns. Pretty hard to make good progress under those circumstances!

    I try like hell-damn to keep my fantasy names mentally prnounceable. There’s been only one with an apostrophe, so far, because its use seemed logical. I doubt I’ll ever need to resort to that again.


  • I couldn’t agree more, Karen. I think I ranted about this months and months ago in a Kresley Cole review (along with a long hair on men rant). It pisses me off even more when these guys are all pretending to fit into the human world, and they have these funky names, and this long flowing hair (who else besides Fabio still has long flowing hair?).

    I feel much better now. LOL!


  • Actually, Lori, I know lots of guys with long hair. The plumber two doors down the street in my suburban neighborhood has longer hair than I do…he ties it back most of the time, but it is well past his shoulders. And one of the dads at my daughter’s school, who plays in a rock band, has really long hair, also tied back most of the time. Their names, however, are Marty & Angel…I suppose that’s sort of normal. πŸ™‚

    I know more, but those are the two who popped immediately into my mind…and trust me, I don’t hang out with a wild crowd!


  • I must be doing things completely wrong. My heroes get things like Nick and Chris and Charlie and Tom.

    I went through an apostrophe fascination for a while. And a “far too many consonant” phase. Both before I went pro.

    But muddling through funky names…can’t do it. I can handle foreign ones, if they’re not too much alike or too giggle-worthy. Shaphat and Shitrai will knock me silly every time. (Yes, those are real names, from the Bible)

    But Siobhan? It’s pronounced “Sha-von” And it’s “Flew-ther Flam” The dd is always a th in Welsh. Just as any consonant followed by an H is aspirated in Gaelic. Thinking in those tends to be a lot of work.

    I see a lot of long hair, but I work with truckdrivers. Every third one has a ponytail coming out from under his cap.


  • I gave up trying to read Anna Karenina because the long Russian names forced me to give the characters nicknames. So I try to avoid crazy names. I think the oddest name I’ve used is Knot for a man who had a giant lump in the middle of his forehead. He was a bad guy. πŸ™‚


  • Kylie Creel
    October 25
    11:37 pm

    I’m writing a fantasy, but their names are Aedon (A-den) and Kaira (Ky-ra). I don’t think that’s too out there…

    And LOTS of men still have long, flowing hair… my hubby, for one, when it’s grown out is ridiculously gorgeous, it makes me sick. But, soooooooo inspiring. LOL


  • I’m writing a fantasy, but their names are Aedon (A-den) and Kaira (Ky-ra). I don’t think that’s too out there…

    In that case, would it not have been better just to name them Aden and Kyra?

    I would have pronounced his name as ‘E-don’, rather than Aden, because whenever I see an A and an E together, I always go with the hard e.

    It might be a Brit thing.


  • One genre I write is fantasy as alternate history, and base the tale on extensive research of the time and place, including culture and given names. I reference maps of the era and use factual counties and towns, but create character names according to inspiration from history.

    For example, the main characters in my fantasy romance of Ireland, circa 1000 AD:
    Magaith – King of Munster’s daughter/Druid witch.
    Sygtryg – knight protector to the king’s daughter.
    Torgaad – Wizard of Munster.
    Harrold – Wizard of Connacht.

    Easy to pronounce and reminiscent of the era.


  • Easy to pronounce and reminiscent of the era.

    Sorry MC, those names would be enough to keep me from buying the book. But then I prefer contemps anyway, so that’s probably no surprise.


  • Karen, as you don’t really enjoy historicals of Ireland and Scotland in particular, your preference comes as no surprise at all!

    They’re my favs but must ring true – any given name not historically accurate, would take me out of a book. I love fantasy as well and prefer uncomplicated names, as you do.


  • I really don’t mind names that aren’t Redi-Whip easy to pronounce. Maybe because my family has its share of unusuals; Germanicus, Angelitineo, Raquella, Caeserea to name a few. But I do have a problem with characters with stupid names, the kind that sound like they were borrowed straight out of Star Trek or Flash Gordon.

    Btw, I have several male friends with long healthy flowing locks. The lucky jerks.


  • Late to the Party
    January 6
    8:37 am

    The all-time most annoying unpronounceable name from a fantasy book: YHVH


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment