A friend of mine recently reminded me of the Fiction Rule of Thumb as explained my the Gods of Wisdom (a.k.a xkcd).
As sarcastic as the cartoon seems I can't deny it has something of a point. Though, I must admit, in my mind, there's a steeper curve. Because, it seems to me, there must come a point when you've made up so many words, what you're doing is no longer recognizable as writing in English.
This leads me to my quandary. A friend of mine (as yet un-Named, to this blog at any rate -- working on that) pointed out while looking at my MS for Cordamant's Heir that many names I use, while actual names from the planet Earth and probably familiar to some people, are not common in the Hemisphere in which I live and will be trying to publish. What this means, it turns out, is that they generate the same functional confusion on the part of the reader that a made up word would. I can't deny, that puts me dangerously far along the Number of Words Made Up scale.
This puts my in a difficult spot. I've done what I can to keep characters from having names that I think sound too alike, but I also don't want to sacrifice this aspect of the book and end up giving them all names like Rebbecca, Gil, and Peter. It would feel like I was deleting some of the color from the story. Then again, I don't want to confuse the heck out of or utterly lose the reader.
How do you feel about using non-Standard names for characters? Are they different from made up names in your mind? How do you feel about these as readers? Are they hard to keep track of.