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

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.

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