1. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    Using names of people you know

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by AmyHolt, Aug 5, 2011.

    What do you think about using the names of people you know as characters in your story? This wouldn't include trying to match personalities or events that really happened.

    What about in something small like a roll call, having one of the names be someone you know? A name that isn't even really a character in the book just a name that passed through, would that be okay?

    One more twist on this would be using a first name and a different last name.
     
  2. AveryWhite
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    AveryWhite Senior Member

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    i think it would be ok. besides the people who read it if you were to publish wouldnt know that you had taken that name from someone you knew. and perhaps many names that are used in books actually match someone who reads it (though this is probably rare).

    maybe you could just check with that person see if there ok with it.
    in the end its only a name, and many people and charaacters in books have the same name (even with surname). as long as you dont also create a character that had the same personality or as you say an event or situation they went through.
    unless of course they agree to it maybe.
     
  3. AJSmith
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    AJSmith Senior Member

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    There are a lot of people with the same name out there. If you aren't using first and last together, or a really unique name, it could be anyone. If you are doing it for just passing characters, it really shouldn't matter.

    I met a new friend through work this last year, and then found out that her boyfriend had the same name as my villain. I felt awkward about that, and I did tell her because if I become published I don't want her to think my villain is based on him. :)
     
  4. AveryWhite
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    AveryWhite Senior Member

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    haha thats cwl! and yeah thats the best thing to do :)
     
  5. Heartnet
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    Heartnet New Member

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    I use first names, or just use pieces of their personalities. It can help to define a character, and I don't think there's any defamatory about it.
     
  6. Rassidan
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    Rassidan Senior Member

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    I would still watch it just on the off chance you actually offend the person you know. Just because that isn't their personality still doesn't mean it won't offend them. At the least before you commit to the act you could just ask and explain what you are trying to do with their name.
     
  7. The_NeverPen
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    The_NeverPen Member

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    I know 3 Dereks, 3 Gregs, 2 Josh's, 4 Jens and some handfull of Davids. My family is huge, and while I don't remember what they are, I know they all have names. Sure, there's plenty of other names to choose from, but why should I go out of my way to avoid using common names just because I know a bunch of common people? Besides, I think when people know a writer, they scrutinize their characters to see who is inspired by whom, regardless of their names. You can't win, people will be offended no matter what.

    That's OK. Everyone knows the best writers die alone, anyways.
     
  8. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't intentionally use the full names of people I know. If I accidentally used it (say, if the person has two very common names) then it wouldn't be much of a problem because there could be hundreds of people with that name. People I knew in school would tell me they wanted to read my stories when they were published -- none of them do, of course, because my work isn't well known and I use a pen name instead of Yoshiko -- and I figured that if by chance someone did read it and recognised the name then it wouldn't look good.

    Forenames and surnames alone are okay as long as they don't remind me of a specific person.
     
  9. Darran
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    Darran Member

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    Yep I think your original idea of mixing first names with surnames is a safe bet. That said names are-a-plenty out there. Take your pick! :)
     
  10. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    It doesn't bother me. My MCs tend to have somewhat common names, and I know half a dozen people with those same names. It's the personality that matters, in my opinion.

    Then again, if I only knew one person with a certain name, I probably wouldn't use that particular one in a story.
     
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  11. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    Best to avoid it altogether. Name usage is confusing and usage rules can be easily interpreted in so many ways. More to the point; even with the best intention, if you got published and have no reason to be sued, if someone takes legal action it's still going to cost you and the publisher even if you win.
     
  12. lucyconnelly
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    lucyconnelly New Member

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    I have used names of people I know. One example: My godmother's name is Lynn. I have a minor character named Lynn, and the character's personality is loosely based on my godmother. I didn't use her last name for the character. If my godmother ever found out, I honestly don't think she would be upset about it. I didn't intend for it to be defamatory in any way; just the opposite in fact. I love my godmother dearly and saw naming a character after her as a way of honoring her in a small way.
     
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  13. andrewjeddy
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    andrewjeddy Member

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    I think it is fine. Many of the MC and SC in my book use first names of friends and family. However, I have different last names. The readers of your published book will not care, and for me it helps invision what a given Charater will do under certian circumstances. I read somewhere that After J.R.R. Tolkein had written The Lord of The Rings he recieved a letter from a real Samwise. From then on he always feared of recieveing a letter from Gollum!
     
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