Accidental Alliteration in Character Naming

We've all heard the advice about not starting character names with the same letters, varying syllables, and ending sounds. How valuable do you all think this rule is?

Right now I have an Allie and an Ariella in the same series. Would you as a reader find this too confusing?


July 13, 2013 5:44 PM

Personally, I would probably find it confusing.  I'm not a word-by-word reader, I'm a skimmer, so that would trip me up quite often. It's not just alliteration, which I think can be fine, it's that Ariella contains all of the letters in Allie. So an Ariella and an Amy/Abbie/Ava wouldn't be so much of a problem.

July 13, 2013 5:52 PM

It'd depend on context, but I'd likely have trouble with two different A names with double Ls in them. For comparison, Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series has a character named Amara and another character and a country named Alera, and I had constant issues with that while reading -- I'd have to backtrack entire pages occasionally to get myself straightened out. Your names are an improvement over Alera/Amara, though, because of the different number of syllables and the different endings.

July 13, 2013 7:57 PM

FWIW the tv version of Game of Thrones changes the names of certain of Martin's characters because they were deemed to be confusingly similar.  Of course, on tv and in flims the names are only heard, not seen, which makes confusion more likely.  I myself turn on the closed captioning even though I am not deaf since it is a big help keeping things straight.

July 15, 2013 7:27 PM

This may be a bit confusing for some. The easy and simple alternative would be to change one of these names completetly, however, if you especially like them both, try just changing the first letter of one or maybe bothe of these names. For example, Allie could become Ellie or Ariella - Priella. 

July 17, 2013 2:12 PM

I think I could have trouble with Allie & Arielle.

Do the characters often show up at the same time? (If the answer is yes, then their names could be confusing)

Are one of the characters minor, & the other considerably more important? (if  the answer is no, their names might be OK in the same series)

Do you confuse the names yourself? (obviously, if it's a yes, then you should change the names in some way.)

If you feel Allie & Ariella fit your charas well, & you don't really want to change their names, I'd suggest a nn for Ariella. (e.g. Riella, Ella, Ariel, etc.)

Did you settle on those names before you realised they could be problematic? Or were you aware of the possible confusion when you chose them? 

July 22, 2013 9:56 PM

As a writer, I can understand that "Allie" and "Ariella" are very different...but as a reader, if they are in the same scenes, I would probably get them confused.

One of the people in my writing group insisted on having a "Stacy" and a "Steffy" in the same story, and I got them mixed up ALL the time. 

August 21, 2013 9:47 AM

I agree with you entirely, Donna Lee.


(... But that said, I have a bunch of charas in one story who's full names start with "Alex", but they have very different nicknames, which they always go by.)

February 10, 2014 6:08 PM

I'm inclined to say that I probably would confuse Allie and Ariella, but it's because of more than just starting with the same letter. I'd actually be much less likely to confuse Ally and Ariella, probably because it throws a new letter in there (Y), makes the difference in length more noticeable, and puts a greater stylistic difference between the two (For some reason, Ally feels much more modern than Allie to me)It really is interesting to note which name combinations would get confused, and which wouldn't. Anne, Ava, Amy, or Alexandra would probably be fine. Anna, Allison, Amelia, or Alicine might not be. Ellie might be another good alternative to Allie, depending on how you feel it fits the character. Calling Ariella Ella, Ellie, Ri, Ria, Riella, or Ari could also help solve the problem.

But as someone else said, it depends on how often these characters are likely to interact, or whether they might feasably say or do some of the same things. If they're both fairly minor characters who are mentioned in very different parts of the story, or, since you say this is a series, if they're never in the same book, then it probably isn't a problem.

Hope that helps!

September 25, 2014 10:17 AM

I think this would be confusing for me. I don't know the type of book, but with these names, I'm picturing some sort of middle school drama book. So if my picturing is on point, and it is a book taking place in a middle school or high school, I can forsee something like this happening:

Allie likes Jake, and Ariella like Mason. So Ariella is flirting with Mason, but the reader thinks that it's Allie. So while you should be rooting for Ariella to get the guy, you're thinking "How could Allie do that?!". Then in the next scence Allie is talking to Mason, and Mason's like "I just got a date with Ariella." And you're like "woah, what?!"

So with that said, some suggestions for similar names are:



























Hope this helped!