1. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Which name? =D

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Lea`Brooks, Feb 21, 2014.

    Hello all!

    Names are very important to me. I like to find a name with an important definition or one that "feels" right for the character I'm trying to portray. With this novel I'm currently writing, I've changed her name a million times. She's an important character to me, probably the most important character I've ever written, so it's important I get her name right. But as the story progresses and she grows as a character, I find her name doesn't fit her anymore.

    It's a fantasy novel, so the names for almost all my characters are very twisted to fit the world I've created. I really like the name Ivory with the nickname Ivy, since the color white (Ivory) is very important at the end of the novel and Ivy (the plant) is somewhat important in the beginning. However, part of my story is that my MC and her siblings all have names that start with E. So I've played with a few spellings for Ivory that I wanted to run by you and see which you like better.

    Eivorhe

    Eivorhi

    Eivhyri

    Eiyvorhe

    Eiyvhiri


    Thanks for playing!!!
    --Lea
     
  2. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Eivorhi stood out with me. The last two are two complicated for a reader to read and pronounce at first glance, and Eivorhe looks a little made up. Go with the second one! :)
     
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  3. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't like the names ending with "hi" - that's not "ry" as in "Ivory". It's something weird and not very pleasant that has a "hi" sound - like the word "he" as in "he is a boy". Ivor-hy sounds weird.

    If I had to choose, I'd go for the last - Eiyvhiri.

    But to be honest, I think all those names are just too weird. It's not immediately obvious how you should pronounce her name, and if she's so important, you probably won't want that. Why not just stick with the simple: Eivory?

    Or, personally my first question was, why can't you change it that all of Ivory's siblings would have names beginning with I rather than E? Problem solved and you get to use the name Ivory. Are her siblings terribly important?
     
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  4. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    This woman knows what she's talking about.
     
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  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I would just caution you not to get too out there with the spelling and syllables. Symbolism is great. But names with complex spelling and pronunciation can take the reader out of the story and if there are lots of complex names it can make the characters hard to follow and keep straight.

    Eivory and Eivy sound the simplest if you insist on the e and the ivory/ivy name. You could even use Evory and Evy, which I prefer.
     
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  6. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know it was suggested not to use strange names. But my book is so full of them (I'm aware of the risk) that a normal spelling, like simply using Ivory, would be out of place. Writers have strange names with hard pronunciations all the time. If I self publish, I plan to include a pronunciation guide in the back. Like I said, it's a fantasy novel set in a magical world, so having normal names just won't do for me.

    I also read not to have a name ending in "hi," but the intention is for the h to be silent, like in "rhyme." I have a few other names that pull from this, so it won't be a one time deal. And if they happen to included the h, I quite like the "he" sound at the end. So it's a win-win to me. =)

    I could change her siblings names to I, but like I said, character names are hard for me to choose and I finally found names suitable for them. Her siblings aren't the main focus, but they are a large part of the story. They play an important role to the development of my MC. Plus, I really like e names. lol

    So is Eyvorye, Eyvorhe, or Eyvorhi any better? I plan to call her Eyvie if I use Ey instead of Ei.
     
  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Strange names are fine, especially creative names. And there are no rules of writing that cannot be broken if the writer chooses to (hopefully for a good reason). The problem is when complex spelling and too many syllables look like gibberish to the reader.

    Eyvie's good, that's phonetically pronounceable. Eyvory is a reasonable extended version. It doesn't need all the extra letters to get what you want. It has more syllables which is what leads people to develop shortened nicknames for people.

    There are times to use oddly spelled names, if for example there is a language convention you are going for, such as with an alien or foreign race. If you have a lot of strange names and they fit with the story, consider simplifying the phonetics and keeping to some kind of theme that you imagine fits within a language.
     
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  8. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    Names that a simple to read and pronounce i find better when reading, constantly rereading sentences because i'm struggling to pronounce the name gets annoying.
     
  9. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Having a guide at the back is great, but the truth is, a lot of people would skip it. I certainly don't read such things. They are boring, and hard to remember, and when I pick up a novel, I intend to enjoy myself, not study. You could say then it's the reader's problem, but since they are your customers, it becomes your problem too if they then can't engage with the story because all the names are mangled in their heads.

    The silent H is all fine and well, but once more, that is not obvious because the silent H is not part of the regular system of English spelling/pronunciation. I had the name Elothi in my story, with the I pronounced as in "eye". Ee-lo-th-eye. Everyone who's ever read my story called it "Elothy" as in "thee". It doesn't matter what your intent is, is what I'm saying. People will automatically read it as the spelling dictates, even when they've read your pronunciation guide for some. Since the "hee" sound doesn't bother you, that's great, but it is still something to be aware of.

    It's fine to be creative with your names, esp in fantasy novels, but all the reasoning in the world, sound though they might be, is not gonna change the way your reader may or may not struggle with your book based on your names. To give an example, I actually stopped reading a fantasy book altogether because the names were that terrible. The main character was called Pug (so I couldn't stop thinking about silly-looking dogs every time Pug was mentioned), and the villain was Ashen-Shugar, so I couldn't stop thinking about black sugar, and then there was Gardan - the change in one letter does not stop me from thinking about gardens in general. It became so ridiculous I stopped reading.

    Your names are not ridiculous like the example I gave, but I'm just saying - play with names all you like, but it does have an effect on your readers, so just keep it in mind.
     
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  10. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    Perhaps it's just me, but I'm multi-lingual and thus very aware of how differently names are pronounced in different countries. Looking at your suggested names, I would think of some kind of play on various European pronunciations.

    For instance "Eivorhe" gave me Ay-Vor-Heh with a rolling "R" in the middle. I'm not saying that's right, just that the results, as Mckk pointed out, could be very different than what you intended.

    Why don't you just show the names (one at a time) to friends and see how it they take it, *without* telling them that Ivory is the intended result.
     
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  11. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Well, @GingerCoffee and @Mckk are right. You absolutely must be aware of how non-invested readers will read. By "non-invested," I mean reader who have no stake and no true creative input.

    When writing fantasy, we often get ideas for names and think, "Oh my gosh I just love this name and I want it to stand out because it's fantasy." The truth of the matter is that we must be far more careful than "well I like it". If we have to stretch language conventions on the notion that "well some people will read it my way," then we are not writing with the reader in mind.

    The aim of all good writing is clarity. Having fantastical names for the sake of having them will do you no good. It would help if you understood the mechanics of linguistics (I plan on taking at least one class soon), because you would lean how phonetics work. Too many syllables, especially those formed by uncommon letter parings, are huge distractions for readers. Every time I see such names, I am immediately made aware of the writer's presence.

    If you're writing in English, you're better off sticking to recognizable conventions or simpler constructions. Silent letters don't translate well to page in foreign languages/names. For example, in Calculus, there is a method for calculating something (I don't remember exactly) called "L'hospital's principle." Unless you are familiar with French, you probably wouldn't know that the 'h' and 's' are silent, producing the pronunciation loh-pee-tahl.

    Another example is the 'ei' construction. How do you pronounce it? In English, it appears to make the long 'i' sound as in "height" and the long 'a' sound as in "weight." Readers will be forced to choose one if they wish to move forward. Similarly, there are no well-known English conventions for '-hi' or '-he' at the end of a word, so it will be readers choice all the way. Adding 'y' only clutters the name with little return value.

    In sum, you can choose whatever name you like, but I would not dismiss the suggestions that have been made or others that may come. General readers will not easily recognize the connection to the words "ivory" and "ivy" if you stray too far; then the entire effect is lost. My advice to you is this: Be aware of the difference between intent/purpose and effectiveness. No matter what you intend, if the desired effect is not achieved, then you should rethink your approach.

    Too many new writers think that doing things intentionally changes that fact that something does or doesn't work. If something causes a problem, you would be well advised not to say (and I'm not saying your guilty of it), "But I really want it this way," of "I planned it this way to make such and such happen." If it disorients readers, it's counterproductive.

    I motion for Ginger's suggestions "Evory" and "Evy." The connection is clear and I can easily decide on how to read it. In all honesty though, there is nothing wrong with just using "Ivory" and "Ivy" anyway."

    Sorry to berate you ha ha. Good luck. :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2014
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  12. AlannaHart
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    AlannaHart Contributing Member

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    Why not have her name start with E and contain the sound ivy without actually making it sound like Ivory?? You still get the relevant nickname and it doesn't have to be so awkward looking. Like ... Enivya or Ellivey or Epanivee. You could even get the whole ivory in there without making it her name. Ellivoree? *shrugs*
    I have one name in my fantasy which could be pronounced several ways but clear it up in dialogue early on. If you write something like:
    "What a pretty name," she said. "Eivorhe." She drew out the long i in a deep sigh, purring the last two syllables.
    It gives a pretty good idea, or at least lets your reader know what the Ei sounds like.
     
  13. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    A funny thing: Eivor actually IS a (female) name in swedish. :) Pronounced Ejvor. But it's a little dated, I don't know anyone under 60 years of age with that name.
     

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