You know what instantly turns me off? A story with a MC named Joe.
I don't understand. It's just a name. Why are common names bad? Not all heroes have to be named Illuyatavin the Radiant.
He who slays beasts,
As he was out slaying beasts,
As you might think with such a simple name,
I guy called Bill who was born in a medieval fantasy setting is off-putting to me.
A guy called Bill who used to work as an accountant is less so.
That being said, I don't really like the name Bill.
There's nothing wrong about using common names. Of course, that would depend whether the MC is in a modern world or a fantasy world. There are exceptions, in A Song of Ice and Fire, one of the characters is named Jon, which is a common name in that world. Jon Arryn, Jon Snow, etc.
If "Bill" was reincarnated as a pumpkin in a fantasy world, isn't it more appropriate that Bill's name isn't Bill anymore? Probably based on the trend of the names in that world. Because names are often based on trend.
I live in the rural north. I can walk into a restaurant and see Jim, Bobby, Carl, Dave, Chuck, Bill, Scott, and Johnny all sitting at a table wearing coveralls over hunter's camo. They may all be nice guys, but my immediate thought is "Even Mr. Miyagi would be hardpressed to catch a shred of character between them".
I'll also add that there was a literary period/trend in the early 20th century wherein authors would make everyone and everything as bland as possible to draw more attention to the central theme (which most of the time was just as boring anyway), and American students are forced to read them--in their own free time--and then discuss them to death in a hot, smelly room for two hours a day until they're handed the next one on the list. Can you guess which names those authors chose for their characters?
And lets all agree that Bill is the most offputting name you can find in a fantasy novel.
However, as to other common ones, I don't think it's good to use them even in a modern setting unless for comdy's sake. Most of them are so used up, that they make me shudder just hearing them. AGAIN and AGAIN. There's just no chance for a character to stand out in a crowd of a hundred thousand of Michaels, Johns and Eves. I once dropped a book just because I couldn't stand another 'Hope'. It was like eating bile every time I read the name.
I think, there's plenty of names that aren't that popular, those that aren't eccentric but not every single person around you common either. The names that had lost popularity for the moment or were never in the limelight but always there.
Naming your character with bland and unexciting name keeps up with the appearance that your MC is just one of the guys. the normal everyday unpopular guy in school or at work. so they feel more believable and relatable, and when they do something extraordinary in the story then it's more satisfying to the viewers. Well, at least this is my 2 cent opinion.
In the end of the day, I think that this is a secondary problem anyway. If your story is really good, I think it doesn't really matter if you name your character Billy Bob. or Dick.
12/5/2016 1:27:41 PMbatotit Wrote: [ -> ]In the end of the day, I think that this is a secondary problem anyway. If your story is really good, I think it doesn't really matter if you name your character Billy Bob. or Dick.
It does... It really does... The story itself is important, of course, but the name of your mc does turn people off. It's one of those things that the reader sees just after starting and there are names that you just close the book and leave.
Though jokes aside, names do have quite a bit of meaning. I mean some authors use names to foreshadow an event or to symbolize something in a character.