Name Theory: Name Stereotyping

The villainous CEO in Monday’s naming was offered a list of elegant and sophisticated names—names that were very similar to the names the writer offered for other characters, Sophie and Natalya.

However, the author planned to use nicknames for those other characters, making them Soph and Nat. These nicknames have a very different feeling than their longer counterparts, and I can only hope that the writer doesn’t shorten Daphne to Daph in the same vein.

Daph would not make a good CEO villainess name.

I do have hope though that this character will keep her longer name, because I’m assuming that the other character names were those of the protagonists.

Soph, Nat, and Eli (which could be short for Elias) have a definite naming style. They are short forms of more elegant names, and they are somewhat more masculine sounding and therefore more tough than their long forms. These names work for protagonists that are going to fight against a large corporation.

They definitely work more than Sophie, which sounds sweet, and Natalya, which sounds like a sexy vixen.

I admit it, I stereotype names—especially character names. Characters fill a need in their stories, like the spunky fighter or the turncoat friend, and in their service to the story they are a bit stereotypical. Even well rounded, three-dimensional characters fit a type, and that is okay.

Names are the same. Names have a feeling and a history which colors how they are perceived, especially by readers. And I think that you should use how a name will be perceived to help the reader have a feeling for the character. The name is a tool to understanding the character.

This is different when the name is on a person. People are inherently varied and changing, and although some people with the same name share characteristics this doesn’t mean that they will be met in real life with the same perceptions. When people are met they are able to show who they are more fully and quickly than a writer can show a character in the introduction to the story, and therefore people are able to transcend their names more easily than characters.

I guess my point is, don’t feel bad stereotyping your characters names a bit. If it helps the reader and suits the character, it is okay.

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