I have a confession… I can’t stand not being able to pronounce a character name in a book, so I immediately look it up. Yay social media!
As a learn more about writing on my own, I have discovered how difficult it can be to name characters. Even if I have a name in your head, often I will change it by the time I draft chapter three or so because I have too many characters with similar names (Amy, Amanda, Amelia) or it is too cumbersome or too common. Or I already used a similar one in another story. And I think some names get overused. I remember long, long ago when I worked for a review blog there was a spate of books with heroes named Liam. There have got to be other choices for an Irish character. As an aside, there are too many Hollywood Chris’. The limit has been reached.
If you’re doing SFR, it’s tough to come up with alien names that sound ‘alien’ but aren’t too distracting. I used to get annoyed with too many alien character with names like Zar, but then I tried to write an SFR and realized how incredibly difficult that is. Writers have a tough job.
I remember reading a book, again awhile ago, and it was about hero names in romance. This was before indie publishing took off so the ‘rules’ are rather restrictive on what traditional publishers wanted. One rule was that you couldn’t have a hero with a Russian name because those didn’t sell. (There are tons of Russian heroes now, but apparently that was a thing.) And if the character was Latina it was almost always Maria. Asian characters in romances were rare, mostly supporting characters stuck to a handful of (Chang, Patel, Sato ) here or there. Southeast Asian names were non-existent.
You also weren’t supposed to have names that were too ethnic. If you were writing African American romances you had to make sure the names were more ‘neutral’, but not too ethnic like ‘Tameka’ or Keisha’. I had a problem with that. I still do. As a young woman, I read Harlequin’s now defunct line geared to African American romances (there was a teen one also) and I liked having characters that looked like me and people I knew. So it grated that certain names were considered ‘bad’ by publishers as if a person’s name automatically makes them less worthy to be a hero or heroine in a romance.
This post went off the rails. Oh well.