Names that sound similar

by Kaila Reader

Hello Glen. I'd like to start off by saying that this website has been a tremendous help to me! In all my searching the web for instruction and tips on writing, this site has proved most helpful in aiding my understanding of plot structure and characters! So thank you!

Now, onto my question. I am in the process of planing out the plot and details of a fantasy story (well, series really) that I want to write.
In what will be book two of my story I have named my two main characters Quinn and Rhett (they are twin brothers) and their parents' names are Quinton (Quint) and Rhiannette (Rhia). I know that it is a rule of writing that characters' names should not often sound too similar or begin with the same letter. I have grown quite attached to these names and think they fit their characters well, but I fear that they sound too similar especially considering the close family relation.

But what is your opinion? Do I need to change the names? I've considered that it could be explained by that since the parents had twins they wanted them to be named after both parents, but I don't know if it would still seem weird to the readers. (I suppose I should also mention that both Quinton and Rhiannette end up dying in either the beginning or middle of the story so all four characters' name won't be constantly used together)

Thanks! I'd appreciate your advice!

Sorry, I realize this is a bit of a long-winded explanation for what maybe should be a simple question, but the information seemed necessary . . . =/

Answer: That you should make character names distinct is a guideline not a rule. There are situations where it makes sense that the names are similar.

For instance, if you were writing about a small Scottish village in the 1700s, you would find in your research that, in those days, there were not a lot of first names in use. It would be perfectly normal for a village or even one family to have any number of Roberts, John's, and Williams, and you would have quite a job finding ways to prevent your reader from getting confused. (Situations like this often give rise to nicknames, in real life as well as fiction.)

In your case, it is perfectly acceptable to have names passed down through a family. The fact that you have given the children's names somewhat different spellings than the parents' names will help the reader keep the characters straight - provided you are consistent. It may help if your narrator always uses the long spelling of the parents' names (Quinn and Quint being so similar). I assume you will provide other clues or tags in the text that will help the reader keep track of who's who.

P.S. Thanks for the feedback. I'm glad you find my site helpful.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.

 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook

NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles

"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards

"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero