It's important to take care when naming your characters. You want the reader to be absorbed into your fictional world and anything that pulls them out of that world, even if it's only for a second or two as they ponder your punctuation, is to be avoided if you possibly can.
1. Top of the list of character names to avoid is anything which doesn't have a straightforward relationship between the spelling and the pronunciation. I struggle with many Irish names such as Aibhlinn and Caoimhe even when I know what the pronunciation is supposed to be (ave-leen and kee-va respectively).
2. Tricky to pronounce ones comes next. The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler is one of my favourite books, but is the main character's name Macon pronounced May-con or Mack-on? I've been told that there's a city in the USA which is pronounced May-con, so assumed it had to be that rather than than the French wine growing region Mack-on, but my American students struggle with it also. And what about La-a? This is apparently pronounced Ladasha. Yeah, right.
3. At least Macon is short. Rumpelstiltskin is fine for a short fairy story, but imagine a whole novel featuring him. Worse, imagine typing out Rumpelstiltskin hundreds of times.
4. But sometimes a character needs a long name, in which case it's a good idea to abbreviate it. I once knew a woman called Anastasia Rodrigues. She called herself Birdie, which was charming. Rumpelstiltskin calling himself Rumpy would be less so.
5. Russian novels defeat many people because the characters have complicated names with patronymics and diminutives used interchangeably. It's best to have one name consistently used per character.
6. Then there are silly, famous or punning names. In my school year was a boy called John Thomas, and girls called Catherine Parr and Fanny Blood. I have met a child called Courtney Salmon whose parents knew the pun and still went ahead with it, which is simply mean. That's all in real life. None of the names would work for fiction because the reader would either snigger, or wonder if the author had realised the pun whenever they read the name.
7. Inappropriate names. Names are often era specific and class related. There aren't many working class Ruperts, or upper class Chardonnays. My grandmother was called Maud, her sisters were Edith and Ethel, her brothers Harold and Claude, all of which are splendidly Edwardian names and would work well in fiction set in that period, but would sit oddly in a contemporary piece.
8. Which leads on to similar names. I'd advise against having Maud and Claude in the same piece of writing, speaking as one who discovered the hard way that having characters called Jenny, George, John and Justine was a recipe for confusion.
9. For practical, writerly considerations I'd avoid names that don't pluralise easily - Tolkein ran into this problem with the party at the beginning of Lord of the Rings: when more than one member of the Proudfoot family were in the same room, did they become Proudfeet?
10. And finally, to end with endings, especially names ending with s - Davies, Thomas, Jones. These can be tricky even if you're confident of your ability to use apostrophes and extra s's correctly.
PS Sorry about the recent absence, I've had some internet issues.