Some people put a lot of importance on character names. I’ve even heard people say they’ll put a book down if they don’t like the names in it.
I, for one, do not feel this way. Being incapable of pronouncing a name doesn’t much deter me. I figure out how I think it’s said, and that’s how I read it from then on.
People truly despise my novel’s protagonist’s name, which is Amyas. They find it utterly impossible to believe that this name can be for a male, and despite the hints I’ve thrown, he still gets called a female from time to time. Fortunately, everyone who has critiqued my current version seems to know he’s a man.
But the thing is, once I’ve named a character, I can’t just up and change it. Amyas is Amyas, however abominable people may find his name. It’s part of who he is.
Here are a few more of my opinions in regard to character names:
1. The name does not have to suit the character’s personality or appearance.
Does your name suit your personality? Unless you’ve had it changed, your parents gave it to you when you were born –before you even had a personality. Naming a character for their eye or hair color is a little absurd, too, since these things often change from infancy to childhood. But, when it comes to nicknames, you’re free to base it as much as you like on these things.
2. The name should match the time period.
Your Victorian character should not be named Ebony Skies. She should be named Ingrid Pippington.
3. Names should be relatively simple to pronounce by reading phonetically, and if they aren’t, throw us a hint.
For example: Aoife is pronounced “Eefah,” as much as I read it “Ah-oiff” whenever I see it. Another character could butcher the pronunciation upon reading it, and be corrected. Or, they could simply repeat it slowly after learning the name.
4. If the name is long, pick one that can easily be turned into a nickname.
Schwangau (German surname) does not make for an easy nickname. Zellweger (another German surname), on the other hand, has an easy placement of consonants and vowels at the beginning, so you could use Zell.
Behind the Name is an excellent resource for naming characters. It has first names, last names, and user submitted names.