Is it just me or is it hard to tell when its okay to name-drop? I lean on the side of too much name-dropping, and its been making me a little nervous. I took a step back to examine the issue. Its all about familiarity.
When reading non-fantastical novels, I tend to enjoy name-dropping. This restaurant. That girl. The next two streets. It helps me picture that the character is actually in Dallas...or Dubai...or wherever. Its nice to hear professor's names, aunt's names, etc. I can keep up. Or at least, I can tell when I should keep up. Its easy to see who the author is highlighting and whose name shows up just to make it feel real.
With fantasy on the other hand, too much name-dropping is seriously overwhelming. I have such a hard time figuring out who I'm supposed to remember in fantasies. Is that guy important? Are they ever going to go to that place? The complete lack of familiarity with just about everything (especially in epic fantasies), makes it much more difficult to distinguish between You Need To Remember Me and I'm Just Here For Street Cred.
The most enjoyable fantasies use far less name-dropping than the most enjoyable non-fantasies.
So watch out. Do you have too many whacked out names in your WIP? Will your reader be able to keep up?
When it comes to fantasy, take out all the names you can. Especially ones that rhyme with Thoralinakalitaphinax.