While trying to balance the age and birth year of this week’s Character of the Week I (wrongly) made an assumption that the writer was brilliant, because it seemed as if the writer was choosing a name that would be age appropriate in 3 years—a decent timeline for acquiring an agent and then editing and publishing a novel. This was especially brilliant because the novel’s genre, Sci-fi, is one in which writers choose interesting and fashion forward names.
I would strongly suggest if you write contemporary Young Adult, contemporary Fantasy, or contemporary Sci-fi, that you chose main characters’ names which are rising in popularity and will still sound fresh in a few years. Think about choices, such as names, that will help the novel still read as timely (rather than dated) in a few years. And if you take my frequent suggestion to browse the Social Security Administration’s Popular Baby Names lists to find names, search for a year that is a few years “younger” than your character would be now in 2012.
If, however, like this week’s writer you are setting your novel in “the near future” you will need to think even more ahead.
If your novel is lucky enough to be published in 3 years, if it is lucky enough to be in print for a few years, you will want to choose a name that will still sound fresh and interesting to new readers in 6-10 years. Remember, Sci-fi is a forward thinking genre and younger characters especially need to sound less traditional and more edgy. (E.g. instead of Robert try Rhys.)
And, for goodness’ sake, keep in mind that writing the near future is a lot harder than writing 100 years from now, because your readers will see this “future” soon and they will notice all of the anachronisms in your “future” novel. Think about how dated 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1984, and Back to the Future: Part II look now.
I, for one, am still waiting for my hover board.