**My theme for this year’s A to Z Challenge is THE NAME GAME. Everything you’d want to know about naming characters.**
There are plenty of places where you can find names for your characters. If you just look at things in your house—books, DVD cases, magazines—you’ll find an endless supply of possible names. But you may not even have to get up to come up with a name. If you had to make a list of the first names of every person you’ve ever met, how long would it be? You’d probably be sitting there for hours, right? So why not use one of those names?
This can actually be a bit tricky. If you think of a name and it just happens to be the same as someone you used to work with or was in your kindergarten class, you probably won’t have a problem. If it’s someone closer to you, it may be a bit harder. It depends on why you want to use this particular name. Does it have anything to do with the actual person, or do you just like the name?
If you’re actually trying to model your character after someone you know or have known (and it’s not a memoir), then it’s probably not a good idea to use their name. Unless, say, it’s your best friend and they’re totally on board. And of course, naming your villain after an ex can be extremely tempting. But it may be better to mold the character around the way the person behaves or things they have done, rather than using their name.
On the other hand, first names should be pretty free to use. If it’s a name that everyone is familiar with, then it’s unlikely that you’ll get in trouble for using it. Especially if it’s somebody you don’t know anymore, or barely knew at all, and the character doesn’t actually resemble the person.
The problem for your character is that you have to separate who he/she is from the actual person whose name you’re using. If you don’t want this person’s personality traits influencing your character, it may be difficult if it’s a name that you automatically associate with someone you actually know. Try to think about why you want this particular name for this character. What does the name mean to you and how does it fit the character? Using a name that belongs to someone you know may not be the easiest thing to do, but if you really like a name, and it fits with how you see your character, go with it.
WHAT I'VE DONE: Ok, this one's a stretch, but I do have a slight revenge based name. A minor character in UL, Brian, is very loosely based on a girl I used to be friends with (because teenage girls and boys go about things differently, so he really bears little resemblance to her). But I've kinda always had it in the back of my mind that he has the same last name as her. I don't actually use it in the story so I figure I can get away with it. But if anyone ever asks...
Have you ever named a character after someone you know? Did you just use the name or was the character like that person?