1. Louisa Watkinson

    Louisa Watkinson New Member

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    Name Dilemma

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Louisa Watkinson, Aug 9, 2018.

    I am in the process of writing a book (although I'm currently weighed down in world building at the moment) and I'm having trouble with the name of the main character.

    The problem is that I want to use my name. Now, I am aware of how this can come across as narcissistic, unimaginative, how it might make me sensitive to attacks on the main character, etc, etc, etc - the list goes on.

    Believe me, I have tried to change the name - but every time that I do it's like putting on a pair of shoes that are two sizes too small. It's doesn't feel right and it ends up being down right painful.

    I was planning on publishing under a pseudonym (in fact I'm using one now, but not the one I'd publish under), but I'm not sure how far it can go. For instance, my real name will still be on bank cards and the like and unless I go and change my name by deed poll, I'm not sure I can change the names on such items (but I'd be delighted to find out if I could).

    My story is a personal one, a lot of it is lifted from my life (despite being set in a fantasy setting and an alternate universe). I grant you it's not exactly the same, but the themes of my life are there.

    Nevertheless, she isn't me - she really isn't. I suppose apart from the name and the hair colour (and some similarities of life that are in the plot) that's all there is; when I imagine her, I do not imagine myself - she is a very separate person.

    I'm also aware of the problems that can come from authors putting themselves into their books: they put in an idealised version of themselves, polishing off character flaws which leaves them with a very boring and soulless character. My main character has flaws, big ones - I'm very honest in that respect.

    After all that, my question is this: do you think it would be acceptable for me to use my name? The only alternative I can think of is something that someone else suggested on here, use my name for the draft - but for the final edit, swap in another!

    How far can pseudonyms' go? Would you let an agent and/or publisher know your real name? Can you change the names on bank accounts, etc?

    As you may have gathered, I'm quite a private person - so this would be important regardless of whether I end up using my name for the main character or not.

    Many thanks in advance for your help.
     
  2. Linz

    Linz Active Member

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    I'm no expert, so I stand to be corrected, but I would imagine the number of readers who would be able to make the connection between you and your main character would be fairly low. I doubt publishers would care either way. I'm not sure whether or not you need to tell your agent or publisher your real name.

    Personally, I find it really uncomfortable to put myself in my stories.

    Eta: welcome to the forum. :)
     
  3. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    There are millions of name possibilities in the world and you are convinced you have the best name and the only name that will work in your fiction? Come on, I'm sure you can be more creative than that. And, yes, publishers and agents will need to know your real name and if you name your character in your novel after yourself, that could be a red flag. I wouldn't want to work with a writer who felt the need to do that.
     
  4. Zerotonin

    Zerotonin Serotonin machine broke

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    To speak on the note of opening up bank accounts under a different name, the short answer is no (at least in the U.S., which is where I live). I worked at a bank during college and, since the real estate bubble, the federal government has cracked down hard on banks via regulations. We weren't even allowed to tell someone the balance on their account without them providing us with an I.D. We also required two distinct forms of identification in order to open an account, solely to prevent someone from opening accounts under false names.
     
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  5. Irina Samarskaya

    Irina Samarskaya Senior Member

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    Just do it. What does it matter if the main character is very much like yourself? If anything it may make the story more genuine and interesting.

    Self-inserts are only bad when they are either not internally consistent with the world, or they simply suck (maybe they don't fit, maybe they're OP versions of the author, maybe its simply a bad a character, etc. etc.).
     
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  6. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    That. Simple.
     
  7. John-Wayne

    John-Wayne Madman Extradinor Contributor

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    A Mary Sue/Gary Stew.
     
  8. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Get off my Balzac... Staff Contributor

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    Okay, this is totally unrelated, but since I've got you here...

    I've always wanted to have my credit cards say "Homer Potvin MD" or "Homer Potvin DDS" or something ridiculous just to fuck with people. Do I have to provide proof of my credentials when I fill out the online forms? I know a bank and a credit card company aren't exactly the same thing, but since I've got you here....

    And to the OP:

    No, don't use your own name. Are you nuts? That's beyond lame.
     
  9. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Contributor

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    I can speak from experience on this, having written under pseudonyms and under a nickname version of my own name, which has caused various pains in the ass. For the day gig, I've also worked with people who use stage names. This applies to the US:

    Yes, your agent and publisher will need to know your full, legal name, because you will be signing legally binding agreements with them. The exact wording varies, but there's usually a reference made to both names in the section that names the parties in the agreement. Handling confidential information is part of any legitimate agency, so that shouldn't be an issue.

    As for bank accounts, to get a bank account, you have to have a government issued ID. To obtain a government-issued ID, which must be under your legal name, you have to provide a birth certificate and another form of identification, which varies by state.

    Potential pain the ass: your social security card. That name has to be correct so that your social security is properly funded. It also becomes a thing if you're an author who makes personal appearances (example: a TV talk show) and earns a fee for that, because there are tax forms to be filled out.

    If someone issues a check to you under the wrong name or books a flight for you and accidentally uses your pseudonym, that's a pain in the ass, because your ID won't match. Also, don't forget your passport, if you travel for business.

    To make my life easier because I occasionally received checks under the wrong name, and because I travel a lot, I legally changed my name to a long name that incorporates my real name plus both of my pen names. My full legal name looks weird as hell, but it's rare that anyone sees it, and for everything else, as long as I use two of the names on my ID, I'm good. I changed all my identification and social security card to my new legal name using the name change court order, and it's made everything a lot easier. Fitting the name into the spaces of the forms was interesting (my legal name is six words long), so keep that in mind, but I made it work. My new "middle initial" is from the second name of my long string of names.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
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  10. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Some authors get around the bank account problem by starting a business in their writing name or in some other name and asking that cheques be made out (or e-payments be made) to that business. Then you can write business cheques to pay your business expenses and write cheques to yourself for any profit.

    But it's not something to do unless you're sure you'll have a fair bit of income, because banks tend to charge some pretty serious service charges for companies compared to what they charge for individuals, but if you're really concerned it might be worth it for the peace of mind?

    I guess you could probably use your business name in contracts as well? I'm not sure about that. But you'd still have to sign the contract as yourself, so I'm not sure there's any significant advantage.
     
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  11. Zerotonin

    Zerotonin Serotonin machine broke

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    I'm not sure in all honesty. When I was working in banking, I had to shorten a few peoples' names to get them to fit on debit cards, and they never had any issues from our bank. They may not allow it simply because it isn't your legal name, however. I didn't deal much with the actual processing of credit cards, just the applications, so I'm not sure how that'd pan out. I'd be interested to find out, though!
     
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  12. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    Davey didn't write about his own bloody locker, but he might have written about
    Steve's locked box or some shit like that. Point being Davey ain't gonna give away
    his own bloody damn locker, ye think?
     

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