What I learned: How easy it is to confuse readers, and the need for consistency and repetition in the early presentation of a character.
I hung a heavy name on my main character in Wacky Road– Sara-Lapis Hughes. Early readers of the story, which was submitted a chapter a week on Critiquecircle.com, forgot her last name (Hughes) and thought it was “Lapis.” Later, one critiquer suggested I hyphenate her name, which I did. Then somebody else thought it was a mistake, meant to be “Lapis-Hughes.” Others referred to her as “Sara,” and someone said, “What’s with your MC’s name?” (Like, give us a break.)
Their discomfort seemed strange in this era of original and exotic names for real people. Maybe fictional characters are supposed to have mainstream names. Characters in mainstream fiction, anyway.
I haven’t changed it, believing that this character’s awkward name is a good choice for an inflexible middle-aged woman who grew up with the nickname “Slappy.”