My friends have recently been accusing me of stealing ALL THE NAMES POSSIBLE. But it's not MY fault I have over a dozen books filled with characters who needed names.
...oh wait, it is. Crap.
And the sad thing is I can remember almost every single name. Someone says a name, and I'm like, "Oh yeah, that was my MC's best friend's grandma. You know, in that book I wrote four years ago." Apparently, my brain has a whole file just for The Names Of Characters In My Books No Matter How Minor.
But here's the thing, friends, THEY WERE MINE FIRST. No, that's not what I meant. I can understand your frustration at my seeming domination of all cool names. Let's face it—I have good taste in names. But you know I'm good at sharing, and you also know at least half, if not more, of those books will never see the light of day anyway.
Writers tend to take names pretty seriously. I know I do. I can't start writing a character until I know what to call them. It's part of their personality for me, and it's really hard to change a name once I've decided.
But I wonder if readers take names as seriously. I can only think of one case where a name bugged me while reading, but other than that character names are just...names. It's weird, since I know how much I care about my own, that when reading they aren't as important. And when I read two books that happen to have the same MC name? Doesn't bother me either.
I don't really know what I'm trying to say. I've just been thinking about names ever since I got accused of stealing them ALL. I used to see them as this Huge Deal, kind of how it bugged me in school when another girl had my name, as if they were stealing part of my identity or something. But now that I'm older, both in years and writing, it just doesn't...matter.
That might sound horrible, but I guess I'm saying a name is only a very small fraction of a character. If you've written a truly dimensional character, they will stand out no matter what their name is. That's what we should really be concerned about. So maybe instead of asking, "Is this the right name?" We should ask, "Would this character stand out even if I named him John Smith?"