You know what instantly turns me off? A story with a MC named Joe.

#1
Names like dave, collin, mitchell, bob, scott, and john. Your classic predominant white male names that belongs in a soap commercial. If your going to pick a name for your main character please put some thought into it and make it unique. Most readers personify themselves into the main character to immerse them in the story. I find it hard to project myself into a premise where "Bill" becomes reincarnated into a sentient pumpkin which was the only crop the village cheif was managed to grow due to everlasting winter the lands were cursed upon. But, said pumpkin has the cheat-like ability to infinitely create the most delicious pumpkin pies and with these pumpkin pies he managed to save the village and eventually the world. Hell, I would of probably read this story if HIS NAME WASN'T BILL. Can you imagine how ridiculous it will be that they will forevor sing his name in reverance of "Bill" the hero or "Bill" the saint? Thats probably even more ridiculous than the premise itself!

RE: You know what instantly turns me off? A story with a MC named Joe.

#3
You know, some things are written with names like that for irony. You either read or you don't. If you have the willpower, simply replace each instance of those names with a name of your own choosing. Example:

He who slays beasts, Bob Mordred, stabbed each and every goblin through its heart as it slept.
As he was out slaying beasts, Bob Mordred decided to create his harem of epic proportions because that's just what he does. MC powers bro.
As you might think with such a simple name, Bob Mordred was simple minded and liked to slay beasts for pleasure.

RE: You know what instantly turns me off? A story with a MC named Joe.

#5
I think you sounded like a racist when you say predominant white male. Is there something wrong being a white male? I'm an Asian, so I wouldn't know.

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.

RE: You know what instantly turns me off? A story with a MC named Joe.

#6
Perhaps stated a little... overstated... but the OP has a point. Unless the name is meant to call attention to the MC's normality or create some ironic humor, it's a like a dropkick to the immersion gland when characters in a fantasy or LitRPG story have a modern name, especially a common one. In the U.S.A., these sorts of names are so incredibly common that we've conditioned ourselves to think that since the name is boring, the person must be, too.

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?

RE: You know what instantly turns me off? A story with a MC named Joe.

#8
The name Bill is yeah, no arguments there.

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.

RE: You know what instantly turns me off? A story with a MC named Joe.

#9
My MC  is named Bobby and I remember naming him that specifically because I have the exact opposite experience from you guys. To me, It seems like all the characters of every book, especially in sci-fi and fantasy, have a very cool and exotic name like everyone knew they are destined to do something big. Name like luke, kyle, Magnus, xavier, sky, or any other cool name crap.

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.

RE: You know what instantly turns me off? A story with a MC named Joe.

#10
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.