Thoughts on a name

im currently writing a story. The main character is a 14 year old girl. Her last name will be Hutton, but I’m not sure what her first name should be. I really like Madyn (pronounced like Madden) but I’m not sure if it works well wit her last name. Her siblings are named Sawyer, Nora, and Ruby. She has light brown hair and pale green eyes, if that helps. 


October 11, 2018 9:54 PM

I dont think it works together - its the n ending.  Sawyer is so different from Nora and Ruby,  but to go with that I'd go Maisie, Mabel, Maggie, Mavis, Mary, Milly, Molly

perhaps Maddie or Marley, Miley, Maddox to match Sawyer

or change Sawyer to Sarah, Sadie, Scarlett, Sibyl, Sylvie

October 11, 2018 10:04 PM

In real life Madyn Hutton would be too repetitive for my taste, but in a book I find visual distinction and distinction from other main characters' names to be most important. In my dialect the -dyn and -ton endings sound almost exactly alike, but they look quite different. Unless you plan to frequently refer to her by her full name, in readers' minds she'll mainly just be Madyn. So from that point  of view I think it's fine.

I do find Madyn a little odd next to sisters Ruby and Nora, which are much more traditional and unambiguously gendered. In a real-life sibling group, if I heard siblings Sawyer, Nora, Ruby, and Madden,  i would assume there were two brothers and t two sisters. Again, I think the visual of the -yn ending helps more here than it would in real life, where spelling matters less than pronunciation most of the time.

You could also make it a complete non-issue by having some reason why the name is in a different style, e.g.  if she had a back story of being a lot older or younger than her siblings, or only sharing one parent, or if Madyn was short for Madelyn (I could totally see this nickname evolving from a toddler sibling who can't say Madelyn).

By EVie
October 12, 2018 5:10 AM

I agree about the stylistic differences with Nora and Ruby, and like the suggestion of Madelyn as a better match.

Another thing that I find a bit jarring is the spelling. Usually in two-syllable words, a vowel before a single consonant is long ("lady" = LAY-dee) and before a double consonant is long ("laddie" = LAA-dee). So I would read Madyn as MAY-den, and Maddyn as MAA-den. There are plenty of exceptions, of course, but when readers come across an unfamiliar name, they will often default to that rule. In real life, people usually hear names spoken, so you can correct mispronunciations and hope that eventually people will get it right, but in fiction, they are  hearing the name in their own heads the vast majority of the time, and mispronunciations get really entrenched. So I think it's usually worth it to spell names as intuitively as possible, unless there is a compelling reason not to. If you do go with a non-intuitive spelling, then try to find a way to clarify the pronunciation as early as possible in the story.

(Think about how many early Harry Potter readers had no idea how to pronounce Hermione. In that case, it's a traditional name, so I wouldn't spell it differently, but it could have been averted by having her correct another character's pronunciation of her name in the first book. Rowling did eventually do that in the fourth book with Viktor Krum, and a lot of readers were taken by surprise because they were so set on their imagined pronunciation. This was before the movies, of course). 

October 12, 2018 11:00 AM

Madyn sticks out to me from the proposed sibling names, as well.  And I'm another who would assume it's pronounced like Hayden.  I think having Madyn be a nickname for Madelyn completely solves those problems. 

October 12, 2018 7:46 AM

Thanks for the suggestion. I think I’ll go with Maisie, but am still thinkin.

October 12, 2018 3:59 PM

Maisie is so sweet and goes so well with the others