Cliché Names in Literature

July 26, 2015 Features, Jennifer's Thoughts 13

Let’s Discuss!

(Totally copied that from Marianne lol)
*The following post about names is not intended to offend anyone that goes by that name. These are all just typical character names and how they are used in many fiction books and stories*

I am a writer. I love to make up stories of all kinds even if I don’t always finish them. My favorite part of writing is the planning and plotting, the researching of things, terms, and names. Naming a character is like naming a baby because, in truth, they are your babies. You create them from nothing and nurture them when throwing horrible things in a made up story, because that doesn’t sound crazy at all.

One of the many tools writers use for their stories are Baby Name websites and books. I don’t know about others, but I choose these names by browsing endlessly until that fetus baby voice in my head say they like a name. They have to have a ring to it, something that will help shape their personality.

It is this way that I have stumbled upon Cliché Names. What are these? These are the names you find in many books with similar characters, whether by the things they do or what they are. For example, we have Gabriel and all its derivation.

What do you think of with that name? For me, I think of an angel and a vampire, but not necessarily both. Why? Because if you look for books of angels and vampires, chances are there will be a character by that name.

Another example is Chloe. As I’ve seen in many books and stories in the internet, Chloe is the supporting best friend of the main character. Even I thought that when I didn’t know that info beforehand. The name simply has that ring to it!

Cliché names aren’t bad. Not at all. Some might bring a sense of familiarity to either the reader or writer.

Though, sometimes it’s also good to choose one that isn’t all that common. There are tons of different names in a lot of languages that can make things interesting. Unique, in a sense that can make your characters stand out from the crowd. Take for instance Dumbledore, Katniss, FOUR (a number!), Frodo, Aslan, Darcy, Inigo Montoya, et cetera. A name has a lot of power.

Some others I thought of were Damon/Daemon, which is the bad guy jerk who’s actually a sweetheart. Dimitri and Vladimir, the brooding sexy Russian hot men that’ll have your heart racing. Sam, Gwen, and Alex are the laidback, cool-crown main character girls that are so cool they don’t use their whole name and instead rely solely in nicknames. And Jessica, the annoying backstabber friend.

What are some cliché names in literature, or even TV, that you know of? What type of character do they describe for you? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm Jennifer. Addicted reader, and lover of books. I'm a full-time college student majoring in English Liturature and Linguistics & Communication, with aspirations of being a professional editor. Among other things. In the meantime, I obsess over books, history, art, and politics. I believe in freedom of speech and reading whatever you want. Open to discussions about anything and everything 🙂
  • I’m not a fan of unoriginal, lame names (see Bill of True Blood or Johns in any novels). Lol.

    • jmmbookworm

      Hahahaha Bill. A lot of males had pretty common names like that there, except Alcide. There should be more Alcide’s xD Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  • shootingstarsmag

    I really like unique names, in real life and on TV/movies and in books. I feel like a lot of the popular, bitchy girls have similar names like Jessica and Mandy and stuff like that.

    • jmmbookworm

      I had a friend who called herself Mandy and I used to think that was so bitchy! Turned out she wasn’t like that at all, but it’s an example of how powerful a name can be. I dread when someone is named like me for those reasons too.. Oh well. Thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂

  • Unique names should be the trend. Hermoine is the only one I know of that has not been duplicated. LOL! I think most of the names in Harry Potter are unique. I think authors should think of names that haven’t been used a lot, because it gives their books their own identity. In SJ Pajonas’ Removed series, the main leads are Sanaa and Jiro. In The Darkest Minds, there’s Zu (Zusume). We’ve got so many Adams, Johns, Alex (that is unisex). Names do have power.

  • Hehehe this is such a great post Jennifer! I actually have stumbled upon a few Vladimir’s and Gabriel’s that are exactly as you described hahaha.

    • jmmbookworm

      Haha thanks! (Sorry for the late reply though) And I’m glad my very small research was correct on those two names xD Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  • Karen

    I always like when an author uses a name that feels like it should apply to a certain personality then flips it.

    I also use those baby name sites to name animals lol

    Karen @For What It’s Worth

    • jmmbookworm

      I’ve seen it a few times, what you mentioned of flipping it, and I love it. And aww, that’s a cute image. Thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂

  • I’ve read several books with Hannah or Anna as the female MC and for male characters, Sam, Daniel and Josh are the most common. I think unique names have more recall. They’re not forgettable and you can pinpoint easily which books they came from. You wouldn’t have to think twice who Katniss and Hermione and Frodo are. 🙂

    Julie @ Books and Insomnia

    • jmmbookworm

      Exactly! People get confused when you say you love a Sam and they think it’s someone else. Thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂

  • “I think of an angel and a vampire” HA, pretty much! I completely agree about Damon too, I see it so much. Chloe is a name I haven’t come across too much, except for The Nine Lives of Chloe King. Although I’m always a little iffy when I see names like Katniss, they are memorable.

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