Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Patterns in Names

Before yesterday's post took an odd turn, I had something very simple and a little peculiar on my mind: the pattern of names. Specifically, the number of syllables in the names of protagonists. In the majority of serialized novels I read, there's a very orderly breakdown: if the novel has a female protagonist, her name has four syllables; if the novel has a male protagonist, his name has three syllables.

I'm sure there are exceptions to this, but check out the lists I have:

  • Anita Blake
  • MacKayla Lane
  • Rachel Morgan
  • Sookie Stackhouse
  • Stephanie Plum
  • Izzy Spellman
  • Kitty Norville
  • Savannah Reed
  • Casey Daniels
  • Avery Baker (if you pronounce it "av-ree" not "av-er-ee")
  • Madison Fox (even my own main character!)
  • Jack Reacher
  • Serge A Storms (if you pronounce it "surge" and not "ser-gay")
  • Mack Bolan
(Okay, I don't read any of those male characters, but they're the three main protagonists that Cody loves.)

When going through my shelves looking at the protagonists names I found there, I was surprised to note that most other female characters have three-syllable names, but all of them are characters I either no longer follow or whose series have stopped (May Northcott, Aisling Grey, Claire Randall, to name a few). Surprisingly few characters have names with more than five syllables. Meredith Gentry is the one that springs to mind whose series is still ongoing.

So is this a pattern? Is it a societal pattern, that readers feel more comfortable with female characters with four-syllable names? Is it just me? And if I were to try to predict from this list, not only would I purposely make my main character's name four syllables (if it wasn't already), but I think if I were to use a pseudonym, I would pick one with four syllables.

1 comment:

Tracy said...

Woah, my mind is blown! :)
Not sure if you're thinking too much into it, but it is interesting!