I wanted the simplest, dullest, plainest-sounding name I could find, 'BLANK BLANK' was much better than something more interesting, like 'Peregrine Carruthers.' Exotic things would happen to and around him, but he would be a neutral figure — an anonymous, blunt instrument wielded by a government department.
The answer will be beneath the line break, so you'll have to click on read more.
There are never any real rules in the world, even the rules of physics break down as you get back before the big bang (gravity was reversed, matter outran light). There are none in writing. The only true laws are those of cricket and those of the Medes and the Persians which did not change. But most real names don't work in realist novels. They seem too studiedly normal: too realistic to be true. I mean... well here's what I mean. I just tried to think up normal first name - thought Geoffrey - normal second name - thought Robinson and then realised that there is a Geoffrey Robinson, he's an MP and he was involved in a scandal and he used to own something-or-another and his name just wouldn't work in a novel. Reality rarely convinces.
But Jeremiah Johnson or Mary Poppins?
Incidentally, Dickens was of course the greatest namer that literature has ever known I have some Dickens names that I doubt you know. You see, the cause of Polish independence was terribly fashionable in Victorian London and Dickens was a member of The Literary Association of the Friends of Poland. He used to go to meetings. But, as he complained in a letter, the meetings were often preposterous with people pretending a knowledge of Polish politics that none of them actually had, the speaker would be
talking about celebrated Polish Women, and saying “but when I mention the hallowed name of Titchibowski – or of Lobski – or of Pastocrontik – or of Sploshock – or of Screweyzlunskifi, that wife and mother” – and everybody professing to roar with enthusiasm at every name, as if they knew all about it!
Have you guessed the name yet? Then click on read more.
It was Ian Fleming talking about the name James Bond. James Bond was the dullest name he could think of, which only goes to show something, but I'm not sure what.
P.S. I once read a (terrible) novel where the names were all normal apart from the main character who was called Horselover Fat, but I got used to it after a few pages.