This is quite a genuine question – why do authors feel the need to have unnecessarily complicated names? While it is not immediately a hallmark of being a Mary Sue, the apparent need to draw attention to it seems to be an attempt to make the character sound interesting right off the bat.
For those who know me personally, you’ll know that I am one of those that have an unnecessarily complicated name. It phonetically doesn’t make any sense and 99% of the people I meet give me this queer little look as if to say “Are you sure that’s your name?” (Yep, I’m sure.). But rest assured, my parents did not name me oddly in attempts to be cool or to make me interesting. More likely than not, they spelt my name wrong on the birth certificate and just went with it.
Anyway, as I said before, having a different name doesn’t make a character a Mary Sue. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games may have a name that rhymes too much with Cat Nip (pretty sure this Harvard Lampoon parody called her that too) but I wouldn’t consider her to be a Mary Sue.
But once in a millennium (it’s more frequent than that – let’s be honest), writers take it way way too far.
For those who have lurked on the internet long enough, you might remember what is considered the absolute worst fanfiction in the history of the internet (and before then, probably fanzines too). “My Immortal”* by a user named Tara in the Harry Potter fandom (Surprise Fact: It had nothing to do with Harry Potter really) featured the most obvious self-inserted character I have ever seen. Besides the eyesore that was her spelling and everything else, her character’s name was Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way which she frequently misspelled as Enoby which then reminds me of Enoki mushrooms.
Let that sink in everyone.
Her name was Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way.
I get that the Ebony, darkness and raven bit adds to her character’s persona (I use that term lightly) but why the mention of brain disease? Normally I would insert a jab here about how the reader would probably be inflicted with some sort of illness from reading that story but I like to think I’m better than that (I’m not, clearly.)
So luckily, any name that crops up in YA fiction in comparison is really not that crazy. Sure you get names like “America Singer” (from “The Selection” for those wondering) or Renesmee (from “Twilight”) but I suppose at the end of the day, the name of characters doesn’t matter too much if you’ve got everything else going for you. But if you’re angling for that character to be exotic and “different” compared to the others just based on their namesake? Then nope, I’m not here for that**.
Till next time, #readoutsidethebox
Not Another Mary Sue
* The temptation to google this story to read may be strong, but do yourself a favour and just don’t.
**Obviously this is my opinion and I’m sure many people love interesting names and challenging ways of how to spell things in the most confusing way possible.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What is the most ridiculous name you’ve ever encountered in a book?