1. grimalking
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    grimalking New Member

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    Rampant name-changing

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by grimalking, Oct 19, 2015.

    I recently had someone tell me that the name of my MC (which, at the time, was Jon Malowe) was much too plain for a protagonist's name.
    So I've gone through this phase of changing his name every few sentences or so. He's been a Lowe rather than a Malowe. He's been a Jon, a Jona, a Jonah (significant difference), a Jonathon called Jon for short... Several others. The J speaks to me. And I've recently realized that I like the name Jon Malowe. It's a plain, solid name, but he's a solid, enduring kind of guy. The surname is mostly unique, which I feel separates him from all the other Jons out there. He'll end up becoming a legendary figure with many aliases anyway - I feel like a plain name fits well with an epic title.

    So. Do you like Jon Malowe? Do you prefer any of the others? Am I wasting my time asking?

    Hi, I'm new here.
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Welcome!

    In my opinion, wasting your time. What the hell is "too plain"? Okay, so John Doe might raise a few eyebrows and would distract from your story but, seriously, Jon and Malowe are perfectly good names.

    Was this person a big fantasy fan or something, expecting made-up names at every turn?
     
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  3. grimalking
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    grimalking New Member

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    She was my English teacher, last year of school. Most of the things she taught me have served pretty well... Maybe I latched on to this one a bit too strongly.

    Anyway, I feel a lot better about it now. Thanks. :)
     
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  4. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    I tend to read names as word shapes. Especially if they are difficult to pronounce. The name itself is immaterial.

    The story is important, and a weird name has more potential to distract from the story, imo. I'd stick with what you had :D
     
  5. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I wouldn't go too far to the other side. Jona makes me think female without the h. Plus, if you look at some of the 1 star reviews on Goodreads ( not that they are the bulk of reviews ) a lot of people are getting tired of funky or made up names for fantasy. They can actually be distracting. Think of Harry Potter - a plain and common name. Worked for him. I think Jon Lowe or Jon Malowe is fine.
    John may be a plain name but there are a lot of John's out there who weren't - John Malkovich, John Hurt, John Waters, John Wyck, John-Boy. It's not the name that makes them - it's their personalities.
     
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  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I like Jon Malowe. You've used an unusual spelling (it's not John) and the first and last names go well together. In fact, I think it's a good name—although, of course, it's out of context.
     
  7. ADreamer
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    ADreamer Banned Sock-Puppet

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    Tobias the character in my signature has Esel as a last name. Tobias Esel sounds alright. I wanted something that sounded a bit odd, cause he's an odd guy. Now change Esel from the German word I used and it's Tobias Donkey/Ass.

    Names can be absolutely meaningless and as plain as butterless toast. On the other hand names can be quite deviously brilliant - there was a book I read a few years ago, don't ask me the name as I can't remember for the life of me, where the secondary MC had a name which after you took away a few letters spelt Lo Key. Or specifically Loki as the secondary MC was later revealed to be the God of Mischief. Once the author revealed that I went back and just shook my head - cause it was pretty obvious if you thought about it.

    So forget what other people think on the name and ask yourself is your character a Jon Malowe. You said it's a plain name for a steady guy, so it seems to work. I mean would some fancy name work as well.
     
  8. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    I like Jon Malowe. Kind of wish I'd thought of it. ;)
     
  9. Nicoel
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    Nicoel Contributing Member

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    Jon Malowe is a great name, and I don't even think it's all that plain - let alone too plain.
     
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  10. Starfire Fly
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    Starfire Fly Member

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    I agree with the others. You're overthinking this. It's great that you learned a lot of helpful stuff from your old teacher, but try not to get tangled up in rules and formulas too much. In my experience, it just strangles the creative flow. And while you're trying to make it go this way and that to think of a "catchy" name, you're not following it where it's trying to lead you. If Jon Malowe feels natural for your character, call him Jon Malowe.

    In all honesty, I actually think it's refreshing. I'm getting tired of funky names myself, and am very glad to hear there's a general trend in that direction. One of the last novels I read had so many weird names, names that are supposed to be pet names given to babies (and making them sound almost like pets or toys or something), and made-up names which I didn't know how to pronounce - which frustrated me every time I saw them on the page. A little weirdness may be called for, especially if it's a weird character. But too much is annoying, and making things "different" for the sake of difference is both gratuitous and pretentious.
     
  11. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    agree 100% with this. OP is over thinking. Ian Fleming picked the name "James Bond" because he felt it was the blandest name he could imagine. Today its hard to think of a single name which inspires a greater sense of bold and brash. Your character will wind up defining the name that you give them. If the character interesting then the name will take on their personality.
     
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  12. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like this sentiment quite a lot. From a perspective of realism, we don't get to pick our names--we have to define what our names mean by who we are. Our names don't define us, we define them. Characters, in essence, should be the same way.

    Since I don't write fantasy, I'm not in the habit of making up fantastical names. So my names are fairly mundane. I do, however, try to come up with names that are fairly memorable. Maybe a not-so-common name like Layla or Noelle. But I do have my share of Bens and Henrys, too.

    Jon Malowe sounds pretty memorable to me.
     
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  13. Lemon flavoured
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    Lemon flavoured Active Member

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    I noticed a while that I seem to have been switching between calling one of my characters "Marie-Anne" or "Anne-Marie" in the text of the story I'm writing. I'll make my mind up eventually and find/replace it, but this thread reminded me of it lol.
     
  14. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    Hell, even fantasy novels have characters named Jon Snow and Ned Stark.
    Personally, the only problem I see is that I keep wanting to read Malowe as Marlowe, with an R.
     
  15. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    i did as well. Though once i caught it, its Malowe (məˈlɑː.wi) correct?
     
  16. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    Maybe. May-low?
     
  17. Aple
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    Aple Member

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    If your mc is jon malowe. Then keep him Jon malowe. I don't know about you, but once my characters are named they don't react well to be renamed....
     
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  18. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    I renamed one of my characters because a google search revealed it was the name of a nazi war criminal.

    I see the OP only has two posts. I hope that's not all. I like the name Jon Malowe, although I keep calling him Malone, because the helmsmen aboard one of the ships in my novel is Lieutenant Malone, pronounced like Bologna (Maloney)

    AB
     

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