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60 votes
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Do hard to pronounce names break immersion?

Hard-to-pronounce names suggest a different culture. If War and Peace had its characters named not Andrei Nikolayevich Bolkonsky and Pierre Kirillovich Bezukhov, but Andrew Bolk and Peter Bek; or if ...
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55 votes

What are the Pros and Cons of long names?

Let me start with a disclaimer: some languages are naturally more tolerant of long names (and long words) than others. In Finnish, you've got names like Väinämöinen. In Hebrew, if something has more ...
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50 votes

Current events may have ruined a name I was going to use

Worry about this later Names are easy. A quick run of Find/Replace, and suddenly, every mention of Corona is replaced with Prominence, or Flare, or whatever you want. Write your story using ...
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38 votes

Are connotations with certain names inevitable?

While names have connotations, those are, most of the time, different connotations for different people. Hearing the name 'Brad' one person can think of Brad Pitt, another of Brad who bullied them at ...
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38 votes
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Avoiding repetition when there are two unidentified individuals

You have a few choices here: 1. You can group each person's actions together more (I've also edited a couple errors). The tall figure was overwhelmingly tall. It stood in the corner of the room ...
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37 votes

Is there a more modern version of "Acme", as a common, generic company name?

The reason for Acme's use is two fold: First the name has a meaning of "peak or pinnacle of achievement" which is good for any standard, but also happens to be perfect for the obsolete ...
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35 votes

How to differentiate between two people with the same name in a story?

In a written medium, your readers can only identify your characters by what you give them. We cannot "see" your characters. So, if at any point in the story there's a John, and then again there's a ...
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34 votes

Do hard to pronounce names break immersion?

Like your reader, if I'm unable to pronounce a name, I replace it with something simpler so I don't have to try to pronounce it each time I see it. After the first few times of seeing it and trying to ...
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  • 1,308
33 votes

Do hard to pronounce names break immersion?

You can criticise me, but if I get a name like the one you have used (I can't easily see how you get to the pronunciation you give), I simplify or skip it. The consequence is that hard-to-say names ...
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  • 7,443
33 votes

Current events may have ruined a name I was going to use

Corona in Latin means halo or crown. The coronavirus was first documented in the 1960's. Toyota manufactured the Corona from 1957 to 2002 - for 45 years. Corona has been used in botany for oh, I ...
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31 votes
Accepted

Would it be a copyright violation if I made a character’s full name refer to a song?

Naming your character Violet Raine does not violate copyright. You can throw in a joke about the mom being a Prince fan but the father drew the line at naming the kid Purple. This would be ...
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  • 24.2k
31 votes

Character is called by their first initial. How do I write it?

I don't think you need to expand it, but you can. Anyone who goes by two initials is usually called "P.J." or "PJ" in writing. Anecdotally, I knew a guy who went by G (for Gerard), and written down it ...
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  • 3,097
28 votes
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Referring to different instances of the same character in time travel

I think it may be solved using the same term consistently. From what you wrote: "the man", "his older counterpart", "his future self", "his older self", "Older Adrien", and "his other self". ...
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27 votes
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Would it be cheating to change the main character's "name" partway through the story?

Interesting question. Changing a character's name is definitely jarring to the reader (at least it has been to me). The best suggestion I've found to deal with that is to create tension about the name....
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27 votes

What are the Pros and Cons of long names?

We are good at pattern recognition and if you keep the bizarre names to a minimum you should be OK. Long is fine, so long as they can be scanned and not confused with one another. I rather like Tey-...
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  • 23.2k
26 votes

I gave my characters names that are exactly like another book. Is it a problem?

The answer to your question depends on how strongly the set of names is associated with the preexisting work of fiction. Not just the individual names, but the set of names together. For example, ...
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25 votes

Can I use my legal name as the protagonist if I'm pitching my book to traditional publishers under a pen name?

Besides the real world repercussions Arcanist Lupus has mentioned, there are story-internal considerations to be made. In fiction, names carry meaning and therefore certain names fit certain ...
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  • 251
24 votes

Avoiding repetition when there are two unidentified individuals

You can look for other ways to identify the characters. For example: The tall figure stood in the corner, towering over the unmoving skinny figure in the chair beside it. It moved away from the ...
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23 votes
Accepted

Offensive aesthetics and naming conventions?

You can be sure you'll offend someone. This is unavoidable in this day and age. Peppa the Pig offends Muslims, Bob the Builder presents patriarchal stereotypes, Teletubbies are satanistic, and NASA is ...
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  • 15.3k
23 votes
Accepted

Can I use the name Valerian in my sci-fi novel?

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. This is my understanding of the law. (a) You can't copyright a name. By definition, using the same name as someone else's character is not a copyright violation. (b) ...
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  • 25.2k
23 votes

What are the Pros and Cons of long names?

There are no pros. The cons are people will not read them more than once, so your story becomes confusing, and they will stop reading altogether. They may sound exotic to begin or appearing once or ...
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  • 91k
23 votes

Character is called by their first initial. How do I write it?

I'd leave it G. The letter G is pronounced the way you want it to be pronounced, so it's clear. If your test readers find it confusing (which I doubt they will), you could use some exposition the ...
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22 votes
Accepted

How can I introduce the names of fantasy creatures to the reader?

The easiest way is to have someone say the name while looking at the animal and having a frame in your comic where the animal is the center. If you have an animal that plays the role that cats play in ...
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  • 5,586
21 votes

Is it okay to have a character that has the same first or last name as another famous character

The problem you're describing actually has an associated TV Trope: the One Mario Limit (obligatory warning, now that I've added a link). Some names become so strongly associated with one character/...
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  • 9,126
21 votes

Are connotations with certain names inevitable?

Names definitely carry connotations. It may be totally unfair to the people having these names, but certain names bring up an image in our minds. For example, I would be very surprised to hear, "The ...
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  • 25.2k
21 votes

How to address family members solely by relationship in dialogue?

You don't try to be accurate, you anglicize it. If you are writing in English about a Korean family, the reader expects you to translate dialogue into understandable English that is not awkward. If ...
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  • 91k
21 votes
Accepted

Is there a more modern version of "Acme", as a common, generic company name?

Sure! There's always one. This site is a great list, but here are a few: Umbrella Corporation (Resident Evil) Innovative Online Industries (Ready Player One) Wayne Industries (DC) Oscorp, Stark ...
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  • 12.5k

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