Have you, as an author, ever chosen names for your characters that are easily shipped?
No idea what I’m talking about? Let me explain.
Shipping is a combination of two characters names, so that fans can tell you that they want them to end up together, at the end of the story. Like Brangelina means Brad and Angelina. Bennifer for Ben and Jennifer. There are a lot of stories, especially on Wattpad, where the readers ship a certain couple. Tholiver for Theo and Oliver, is one of my favourites, though it’s a pretend ship, because everyone knows they’re just friends.
However, when I think of my own stories, I always think that they’re kind of impossible to ship. I mean Damian and Kaitlin, from Runaway Girl. What would they be? Damlin? Kaitian? Damin? It sounds stupid and doesn’t roll off the tongue like Brangelina or Tholiver. My wolf-shifters aren’t easy either. There’s Milo and Katarina, who could become Milarina, Mitarina, Mirina, Katarlo, or, my favourite, Katlo. Katlo at least is easy to say and seems to make a certain sense.
But what about my book Evanders? For anyone who reads it free, on the blog, you’ll know that Payson and Riley are a great ship to set sail. So, would they be Payley, Rilson, Rison, Ryson or Paley? And what happens when, at the end of the book, you add in Spike, who has a total crush on Riley? Can you have a three-way ship? Spyley? Pailke? Paykey? Ripake? Those just sound stupid.
Unfortunately, I always pick names that I like and are somewhat obscure for my characters. The names above are probably the most normal names I have in my stories. I’ve gone down the route of Brayden, Bricia, Bran, Vairi, Mehalia, Castel, Corlan, Dacey etc, before. I want names that people haven’t used before, to make the characters memorable. But I also want a name that will fit the character’s personality and their purpose in the story. Milo is a strong name, so that fitted for an Alpha. Damian is the same. I have a think for K names, so Kaitlin and Katarina suited me to a T. I also have a thing about choosing old fashioned names; no surprise, since half of my books have old fashioned, supernatural characters.
Serafina, Prosper, Matlock, Tabitha, Eleanor, Elysha, Jaycob, Parry, Braddock – they’re all names used in my book, Unconditional, which is a vampire novel. They’re all old fashioned, they’re all somewhat obscure, even if it’s just by using a different spelling. The two main characters are Prosper and Serafina, so how on earth do you ship them? Serasper? Serosper? Profina? It’s stupid and impossible, never mind difficult.
So just when should you ship two characters? And should the author make it easy for you? I don’t know the answer to that. I know that, with my penchant for strange names or odd spellings of ordinary names, no shipping of my characters will ever become a household name, as familiar as Brangelina. Does it matter? Maybe. It’s hard to tell what’s important to readers, but it’s definitely worth thinking about.