Characters in Works of Fiction

If there is one thing that all writing manuals tell authors about characters it's that they have to be careful in choosing names. Mostly, I think, they do this to forewarn against the possibility of litigation: using the name of a well-known person - actor, politician, businessman - for the vile, disgusting villian of your piece is not considered to be an exercise in good judgement. If you even slightly get close to the real person's character they tend to take offence, and their lawyers become very happy again.

But it strikes me as being nearly impossible for any author to pick a name that is completely unique. Who would have thought, for example, that there would be another Perry Middlemiss in the world? There are at least two others, and one of them has a father with the same first name as my father's. Co-incidences occur, and you've just got to make the best of them.

Unfortunately, in this modern age of the internet, everyone is on the lookout for references to their name cropping up on the WWW. (Back in my fannish days this was called "ego-scanning".) So, whatever name you choose, you can pretty much guarantee that someone out there with an internet connection is going to become aware of it. What you probably wouldn't expect is that one such will write about the co-incidence in a major newspaper. Such is the case with Gina Davies who happens to share her name with the protagonist of Richard Flanagan's latest novel, The Unknown Terrorist. She states her problem right up front: "I know we've only just met, but I feel it's important to get through to you before I see that knowing glint in your eye as I introduce myself - I AM NOT A POLE DANCER." The article is rather mild - there's isn't a big rant from Ms Davies - but it does highlight a problem that authors need to be aware of. As if getting the bloody thing finished wasn't enough of a problem in the first place.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on August 15, 2007 9:37 AM.

Karen Miller Interview was the previous entry in this blog.

Australian YA Literature is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en