1. ZYX
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    ZYX Member

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    Do you repeat names ?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by ZYX, Mar 26, 2015.

    I have multiple projects with large casts, and a good portion of them have been put on hold. But as a result of that I've gotten to the point where I am looking for names for characters only to find I've already used a variant of the perfect name ( for example, I'll want to use Claude for a character, but I already have a Klavdiya, and they are both variants of Claudius ) . The characters would be from completely separate plots and have totally different surnames, but it always feels weird to me.

    So, my question is, have you ever repeated names ? Either using the exact name or a variant ? What were the projects ? How do you feel about it ?
     
  2. Yume No Okami
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    Yume No Okami Member

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    I tend not to, but I don't have quite that many characters. If the works are geared toward different demographics, I doubt anyone will notice, but if someone reads both stories I have a feeling they'd get confused.
     
  3. Twist
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    Twist Member

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    I have one story with a Jesse, one with a Jessica, and one with a character called Jessica, Jessie, or Jess depending on who's talking to her. As far as I know, that's the only time I've reused names, and it was by accident (it didn't really occur to me that the others already existed when I made the newer ones).

    I don't really see anything particularly wrong with reusing names, I just prefer not to for some reason.
     
  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think most people wouldn't have known that Klavdiya is a variant of Claudius - they look nothing alike and most people aren't educated in... what is this, Roman history/names? Classical names? Barring @Lemex , of course :p but he also calls Caesar "Kai-zar" so...

    Anyway what I'm saying is, assuming you can get past the knowledge of it yourself, then just use Claude like you wanted for that character. It sounds different enough from Klavdiya that I doubt anyone would notice.

    As for myself, not reused names thus far but then again I've only been working on 2 books and my cast tends to be pretty small. I don't think I'd want to reuse names, however - it's like giving all your children the same names :p Mind you, if it was a common name like Will (my current MC), I can see myself potentially reusing it, but certainly not the full name. Someone like Arlia, whose name I made up, I can't see myself reusing. Makes sense though, right?

    I don't think I could reuse Soren either, my MC in my only published novel - I know it's a common Danish name, like Jan in Germanic/Slavic countries but since I'm basically British and writing for an English-speaking audience, Soren feels too unique to me to be reused. (Soren's so unheard of amongst English natives that I've had more than one person ask me to clarify if he was a male or female when he was first introduced. Even I only realised it's common thanks to my friend who communicates often with Danish clients, and she's spoken to her fair share of Sorens apparently!)
     
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  5. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've re-used names from book to book, but I do try to be careful within books that all character names are distinct. Like, no Tom and Tim - if I use one, the other is OUT for the book.
     
  6. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, in my current WIP I have a character called Phil, a character called Phil and a character called Phil.
     
  7. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe you could play with the spelling? Phyll? Fil? Oooh, how about Ph!l?
     
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  8. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    No, this has never come up for me, but I am not so prolific in number of projects nor are my casts ever terribly large. I am reminded, though, of the novel The Mysteries of Pittsburg by Michael Chabon. The MC is named Art and at least one of his love interest is named Arthur, both of them having full given names of Arthur, of course. Great novel. Love Chabon. If you saw the film version, the character of Arthur (the love interest) is deleted save for a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo as they ride away to a party in a top-down convertible. The character of Cleveland (Peter Sarsgaard) takes over as the love interest in the film with the deletion of Arthur.
     
  9. Komposten
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    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't have that many stories written lately and I generally only have a few characters so naming hasn't been a problem. Even if I happened to use the same name in a couple of unrelated stories I wouldn't really care since I'm the only one reading the stories anyway. ;)
     
  10. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    For me it's not about repeating names, but not using two names together that confuse the reader.

    I have two characters who talk to each other a lot - and I used to refer to them only by their last names. However, since one is named Priscilla Davis and the other is named Dan Dragovich - their conversations confused people because both names started with D. They are now mentioned as "Priscilla" and "Dan".

    I had to change a character's name this week, someone who's been alluded to but never appeared, because when he finally made an appearance, I realized his name was too similar to my MC (his niece) when they had a conversation. My MC's name is Nina - and her uncle's name was Niko. Yeah, no good. Uncle Niko is now Uncle Spiro.

    But I think your "Claude" and "Klavdia" could work because you actually have to think about it to realize that there is a similarity - especially since they begin with different letters.
     
  11. AASmith
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    AASmith Contributing Member

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    I do not. I view each and ever character as truly special, even the villains. I think it's the closest to God I can feel lol. Therefore each name is also well thought out for the most part, it really has to fit my character. I have went back and forth with names just because they did not fit. Just as I wouldn't give my kids the same name, I wouldnt give my characters the same name either. At least not the main ones. I might call a cashier in one book Bill and then reuse Bill as the name of the gas station attendant in another book.
     
  12. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you have so many characters that you think you have to repeat names, you've got a problem with too many characters. Readers can only keep track of so many characters. You need a main character, maybe a second main character, and one or two supporting others. Remaining characters should be minor. But if you have too many you're going to lose the reader.

    Don't worry about the origin of names. Worry more about names with the same beginning letter. That seems to cause a lot of problems for readers even if the names seem otherwise different. The same sound (i.e. "C" versus "K" doesn't seem to cause as much of an issue -- I guess it's the visual aspect.)
     
  13. Lemon flavoured
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    Lemon flavoured Active Member

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    The story I'm writing mostly is set in a medieval-type fantasy world, so there will be some repeated names. I also tend to use the name Sarah a lot anyway, because it's stupidly common among people I know in real life.
     
  14. ZYX
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    ZYX Member

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    Klavdiya is the russian feminine version of Claudius, which is ancient roman ! In retrospect I could have chosen a better example ...

    My large cast sizes are still an issue I'm working on since I make characters when I'm stressed and I'm stressed quite a bit, haha ... I never even really considered the initial thing. One of the issues is that I have a M. Vladimirova in one project and a Vladimir S. in an another and I wonder if that will throw people off ...

    Thank you all very much for the replies / opinions !!
     
  15. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You might be ok. Most people unfamiliar with Slavic names will probably see Vladimirova and Vladimir as entirely different names. I've had expat friends married to Czechs struggle with their English/American friends back at home cus they're all like, "But why do you have a different name from your husband?" :p It's why I chose to be Bakalar rather than Bakalarova, to avoid such complications!

    Given that, you just *might* be ok :)
     
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  16. ZYX
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    ZYX Member

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    I'm always surprised when people don't know anything about Slavic names as if there's usually a class offered on it in elementary school .
     
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  17. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    How come you're so familiar with it? :) Yeah usually when naming systems differ, it's hard to grasp for most foreigners.
     
  18. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I only repeat names if it is intentional to the plot at some point. Otherwise I see no point in repeating names. It usually just confuses the reader with who's who. If you had three people named Tom in your book you could see how confusing it would get especially if they both had a conversation with each other.
     
  19. ZYX
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    ZYX Member

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    My surname and 'real' given name are Slavic, and I went on a Russian-name kick about a year ago when I started my main project. Polish names are a whole other story, though. I don't even attempt pronouncing most of them.
     
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  20. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Why's "real" in quotes? I'm curious now. Usually I'm the only one with a story on names! :ohno:
     
  21. ZYX
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    ZYX Member

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    I go by Zyxlia, but I made that up as a combination of ZYX and Xylia. My actual, legal name that's on my birth certificate is kind of long and annoying, so I don't use it. My friends use Zyxlia and the rest of the world is kind of torn. I consider Zyxlia my real name because it's the one I use instinctively at this point and I'm more comfortable with it, but I reply to the other name and that's what official documents use, so I'm never quite sure what to call it.
     
  22. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Just call your other name your "birth" name - that's how I put it anyway. It's a standard thing in Hong Kong to choose your own English name, or sometimes be given one at birth but that's nonetheless separate from your Chinese name. You have the option of having both on your ID and both are seen as official names I think. Anyway, this generally baffles the average westerner :D so I say my Chinese name is my "birth" name, although I say that both my English and Chinese names are my names. Officially my Chinese name has become my middle name, but I don't consider that to be true - it's only there in order to preserve it.

    In general if i just say my "English" name and my "Chinese" name, people get it - but then they think the two are related and that's when the story starts lol.

    But if I want to freak people out, I tell them "This isn't my real name - I picked it out of a dictionary" :D hehehe. (that sounds really bad but it's just there was a list of English names at the back of the dictionary lol)

    In terms of which name I react to most instinctively - that one's a very interesting one. In the past I didn't think there's any difference. Then once or twice my friends tell me they were calling for me across the playground in school, and I just completely didn't hear it. Then they yelled out my Chinese name and I swivelled to attention so fast you wouldn't believe it lol. Later at uni I was dating my ex, who insisted that my English name isn't my name (thinking back now, that's pretty arrogant of him - who's he to say what name I should use?) and he insisted on using my Chinese name. (he also insisted on misspelling my Chinese name because he disagreed with the phonetics of it, claiming his version was more 'correct' - according to the English alphabet, he would be right, but again, seriously, what an arse)

    Anyway, over time I realised I find my Chinese name to be just a fraction more personal than my English name. The difference between the two isn't great, but I've definitely always felt the need and the desire to tell people I have two names. Do you have that??

    My husband never caught on to my Chinese name (cus i always introduce myself by my English name) but he rarely even calls me by name anyway. We have a variety of English-Czech mashup nicknames instead on top of the more generic "love" and "lasko" :D
     
  23. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    I reuse names all the time. I do not care about having unique names for everyone. I just use what I like best. For example, Lucretia is one of my favorite names, and I have used it in three different stories.
     
  24. ScottM84
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    In my current book, my main characters go to camp, and one of the boys had a cabin mate that had the same name as his dad. I used it as an excuse for the two to become friends. The dad is at home a few hours away, so there's no chance of confusing them, so I don't see any problem with it.
     
  25. ZYX
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    ZYX Member

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    ( Yikes I am am very glad you said ex there and you're not dating someone who does that ) To me at least, birth name always sounded like a word you use when that name is obsolete, but it does make more sense like that. I feel the need to tell people about Zyxlia but with my birth name I'd rather not. It actually feels really formal at this point, or like a secret for when I know someone well enough ? But then they rarely use it so ... Originally I switched my name so it would be easier, but I wound up settling on a name that is equally, if not more, difficult to pronounce, whoops ! I like calling Zyxlia my fake name because it sounds like I have a secret identity or something, haha ...
     

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