I'm trying to refine a name for my main character and characters in general but I will be focusing on my MC for the example of this question. My question is: What criteria would make a name hard for readers to read?

I'm thinking of using roman and latin, and possibly gaelic names for the book.

Here's what I got.

  • I really like the name Nyuna. (Pronounced Nuu-Nah)
  • Her full name (maybe): Nu'nah Lux
  • Nyu to her friends.
  • Little One is her pet name.

Others I have...

  • Nyuna Everstar Luxanna
  • Nu'nah Lucia Luinir
  • Lumii Luxann
  • Lu'mii Luxe
  • Reina Celestios
  • Nu'nah Lux

Or would that be terrible writing to put an apostrophe in there to easily break the name up into 2 syllables? What would be criteria that make a name difficult for readers? Multiple first names, apostrophes in the middle of the name, amount of syllables, ...? The above are examples of bizarre names I have thought about that I am unsure of.

Online sources aren't being helpful with this particular question so I thought I'd post here.

A general idea of what my main character looks like and does for a living:

Image does not belong to me. It was found on google images after 15 minutes of scrolling through pictures. It's kind of close enough.

This is what she looks like, except she glows a lot more and changes colors regularly.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Aspen the Artist and Author, sudowoodo, user29032, JP Chapleau, Thomo May 8 '18 at 0:00

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – a CVn May 6 '18 at 15:28

Weird names are fine and tolerated, my personal rule is to ensure there is no ambiguity in how the reader should pronounce them; and "Nyuna" does have that problem, it is not certain whether to try and pronounce the "Y". The sound is more important than the spelling I think, so I'd ditch the "Y", with "Nuna", or "Nuuna" if you want the first syllable drawn out a bit.

That said and following that rule, I do use weird names, often ancient actual names and foreign myth names few people would recognize, or vaguely recognize (e.g. "Heraud" appeared before "Herald" appeared before "Harold"). I do that to constantly emphasize the "foreignness" of my setting, or to bring special attention to my hero, or both.

You may be instinctively doing something similar; a distinctive name makes a character special. Everybody with distinctive names makes the setting special.

One more general warning on names, however, is to keep yourself a cheat-sheet of names you have used, both for lookup of characters you haven't written about for awhile, and as reference when you need to make a new name: try not to re-use an existing name, and try to make any NEW names not easily confused with a previous name, either by spelling or the sound of the name. (Some readers rely on spelling, some readers hear the words they read as if spoken in their head).


So, unique names are completely fine in a word so long as everyone has them or if there is a valid reason for their name being as it is (ex - they are a foreigner, they are royalty, etc.)

This being said, adding an apostrophe in the middle of a short name can actually distract from the name itself and make it more annoying to read (in my opinion.) However, if it is a regular part of the language of the place she came from than it is totally fine. You can also use letters like ç (c cédille) or æ (æsc) or accents to clarify certain pronunciations.

(I have a character who's full name used to be Lumineca, but I ended up changing it to Lumineça because the c cédille shows the reader to pronounce her name with an s sound without having to write her name as Luminesa.)

You can always add things like that if you want to make her name stand out, or you can do whichever name you prefer. This is all just my personal opinion.


First, what would be your reaction if you met someone with that name on a real, 21st-century English-speaking street?

Next, how does the world you’re creating for your character differ from my real, 21st-century English-speaking street?

Then, how would anyone who accepted your world feel… ?

Broadly, readers are tolerant of everything that fits the scenario, and of nothing which doesn't,

Please consider https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_Fairy-Stories

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