‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.’ – Shakespeare
And he’s right. You can call something a million different names, and it doesn’t change the object. By names like words carry visual images, interpretations that we can’t always anticipate as the audience struggles to understand that which they have been introduced.
For instance, when I say Mary, you automatically think of a girl.
If I say Jim, you think of a boy.
These names already come with connotations, just like any name you might here, and choosing your own name for your writing is as important as the writing itself. It has driven many authors to either choose something asexual, something ambiguous that may not carry culture connotations. Authors may choose a name that seems more fitting with the genre, which can prompt male writers to choose feminine names when writing romance, because the stereotype is females write better romance than males.
A few questions and arguments borrowed from other sites:
- Are you comfortable with your name in publicity? – Writing World
- Is your gender/culture met with prejudice? – BBC
- What is the stereotypical name/persona in your genre? – Writing World
- Do you need to switch genres? Change reputations?- BBC
- Is your name memorable? Or too common? – Writing World
- Where will your name be shelved? – Writing World
This is a very common topic, and it has been approached on Goodreads. I’ll put some of those top comments here – or at least what I find most interesting.
- To be shelved next to a popular author
- To be shelved by their favorite author
- To be more memorable
- To hide their family/background
- To fit their name with their genre/settings – older names for older fictions, newer names for younger fictions
- To fit the stripper trend of middle name + street name of first home (just to be funny, I think)
- Change only last name so it’s easier to respond to public outings
- Avoid hatemail/prejudice from a very touchy subject
My best advice would be look to your common genre first and choose a name to fit that, unless you’re comfortable with your own.