Let’s start this blog off right. One of the best ways to do that is for me to list the things that I absolutely cannot stand to read in fiction. And no, mixing “your” and “you’re” and “there” and their” are only honorable mentions. As much as I hate seeing when people confuse those two, it pales in compassion to ultimate pet peeve of mine that is so strong, it has caused me to literally throw a book across a room. And we’re talking the old definition of literally. Not the new. Yes, someone (It wasn’t Webster, but another well-known dictionary) changed the definition of literally to mean its exact opposite, but that’s for another rant.
No, asides from all the cliched plot devices and sparkling supernatural creatures, one of my biggest pet peeves is stupid, cutsey names for main characters. The most recent occurrence of this was found in Wal-Mart. I don’t even know the book, but who the hell names their main character “Phayte?” Yes, as in “fate.” And guess what? She was the only person that could stop some sort of bad thing or something. Kinda like it was her “fate.” Ha! See what the writer did there! You get it? Her name is “Fate” and she was “Fated” to fight the bad whatever-it-was. Where’s my picture of Captain Picard doing a double face palm?
Whit and Whisteria Allgood are other characters on this list. That’s right, Mr. Patterson! I’ve got your number for that joke of a book! And after I deal with you, I’m gonna get your friend who’s equally ridiculous in naming characters, Stan Lee!
Basically, I hate character names that insult my intelligence and tell me what or who a character is supposed to be before I even open the darn book. A baby named Dharken Rhaul? I bet he’s gonna grow up to be a bad guy. Take another drink if he has a hideous scar across his face. Honor Harrington is on here too, though I sort of forgive this one, since it’s outer space and all. And I hear the series is actually pretty good.
But by far, the most egregious example of a name I can’t stand consists of only three letters:
I swear to goodness, people calling their characters Kat or Kitty or Katsa or Katniss should be banned from writing and have their keyboards taken away. Let me guess what her (it’s always a female) personality is like if they are named any variance of the name Kat. I’ll bet they’re headstrong to the point of fault and have a “fiery” or “wild, uncontrollable” personality. But they also have a soft side (well, in the case of Katniss, replace soft with woefully useless) I can make an exception for Kitty Pryde, as she was written in the 70’s. But modern writers need to stop this. Don’t name the hero of your urban fantasy epic “Faythe Mc.Lightenstein” Why bother reading the book? It’s obvious by the name she defeats the evil person with the power of love, friendship, light and unicorns. Give your characters real names. Please! Don’t be cute. Don’t be clever. You’re not. If anything, you’re being the exact opposite.
Hopefully, this trend, like so many other trends in fiction, will pass. But I outright refuse to read book that uses trite, cutsey names as a plot device because a writer thinks he or she is being clever. I’ll put that book down in a heartbeat. And when my opinion is actually worth a lot more, (say, after I’ve published a few dozen books) I’ll talk about this again and your character can be put alongside all of the Katsas, Lights, Lytes, Lites, Faythes, Katnisses, Allgoods, Dharkens, Hopes, Skills, Kats, Cats, Khats, and whatever kind of so called “clever” names a writer can come up with. And maybe once we all refuse to read books whose character names insult our intelligence, maybe the next generation of writers behind us will get the hint.
Don’t do it.