15 answers

What's in a Name?

I feel as if I were pregnant at the same time as my sister, had chosen the perfect name for my baby, but before I could announce this choice my sister gave birth and named her child the same name I had lovingly picked, having had no idea I'd squirreled that name away for myself. I've read various responses here about woman debating whether or not they should change the name they picked for their child on the way and you've all swung both ways. Keep the name, who cares! Change the name, it'll be confusing! But here's a twist...

I've been writing a book, mostly convinced to do so by all the positive persuasion from all the great people at this site. I started it many months ago after my husband became unemployed and my carefully constructed little world started to fall apart. I came here and lamented my situation, just let it all hang out and I was buoyed and bolstered by much positive feedback.

So the book began to gestate. After a couple of chapters I tossed the first name I had picked for my protagonist unable to connect to it, and after scouring many baby name websites, I finally settled on one that I loved. One I loved to write, loved to say out loud and as an added bonus, the meaning of the name fit within the textual world I was building. It felt right and I bonded with my character.

Last night, after I sat in front of my keyboard to bleed for a few hours, I decided to look on Amazon.com for some books that were in, what I assume is, the genre my book will fall into. I found a couple and was absolutely dismayed and distraught to find that the protagonist in one of the books published recently back in 2010, has the same name I've been using for my own! The story is not the same in the slightest but I can't help but feel that if I release my book using the same name as the protagonist from this book, it'll be akin to me using the name Alice and expecting readers to try and not to think of rabbit holes and mad hatters, or the name Harry and not have people mentally adding Potter right after. People who read her book first would be hard pressed to disassociate the adventures of that character from mine, just because the name would evoke the memories.

Or should I just keep the name I chose and hope my book stands alone, on it's own, despite the main character's name? I'm pretty torn about what to do.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

=) I'm not pregnant at all but likened my experience of the discovery that my character's name was used in a recent book, to being pregnant and finding out a close relative who had just given birth, chose the same name I had. "I *feel as if* I were pregnant at the same time as my sister." is the analogy I used.

Just thought I'd clear that up since it seemed to have been misconstrued by more than one person. (This does not give me hope for my writing if I am so easily misunderstood. ;) In other words, I feel that I am pregnant with this book, but someone else gave birth to theirs before me and took the name I had chosen. I'm a bit hesitant to reveal the name I chose at this time, though... I'm sorry!

But I thank you all for your input. I'm really leaning towards keeping it as the book who's character shares the same name as my own, isn't wildly popular. Nothing like Alice in Wonderland or Harry Potter. It has a little over 400 customer reviews on amazon.com. However, it is fairly new so, who knows.

I also thought of using the extended version of her name as her name and then "shorten" it to what she has now, which would then be her nick name. But even in doing so, the end result would be the same, so keeping everything as is would save me from having to write in a device to deliver her full name to the reader, then come up with an explanation as to why she wants to use it shortened.

And now I've officially over-thought it. I'd better get the other two-thirds of the story out of my head and onto a page before worrying about this anymore. If I have to change her name, it'll only take a simple search and replace command to get it done in a heartbeat.

Featured Answers

What about keeping the name and using an alternate spelling.
like my son's name is normally spelled J-a-s-o-n, we use Jayson as the spelling for his name.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers

Just use the name you want. If it gets picked up, and your editor feels there's a problem, they'll let you know!

3 moms found this helpful

There are how many gazillion books out there available for us to choose from? Surely each protagonist in each book doesn't have their own unique name!!! If you are really torn about it how about coming up with middle name for your character and refer to her using both names?? For instance...my name is R. Ann...and most people call me by BOTH names!! I wouldnt hesitate for a second to go ahead and use whatever name you have picked for your book...don't give it a second thought.
And as for the perfect name that you had picked out for your someday-in-the-future-child...be proud that your sister and you are on the same wave length and that BOTH of you loved the same name!!! Now start thinking about ANOTHER perfect name...only this time tell your sister what it is and tell you claim squatters rights to it...so she doesn't "steal " it again...lol.
Good luck to you with your writing!!

3 moms found this helpful

as an avid reader, i have to say that a character having the name "alice" or "harry" does not automatically fill my mind with preconceived notions of those characters. i might be in the minority - but i am more interested in the setting, the context, the dialogue...half the time i finish a book i couldn't even tell you what the name of the character was (sorry - i can tell this means a lot to you as a writer, i'm sure like i said, i am in the minority). i am more likely to remember the clever plot twists, the suprise ending, the touching romance.

3 moms found this helpful

You always follow your heart and brain as a parent and also as a Author. It is what guides you.. NO REGRETS!

3 moms found this helpful

I'd say keep the name and don't sweat it. If it were a classic character you were "competing" with, I'd say, you're more prone to have people looking at your story as a retelling or recasting of the character. As long as the story and character completely stand on their own feet, the most you could expect is people who might have read the other book to think it must be a common name for the genre.

3 moms found this helpful

I think you have to look at it this way; how many characters in literature are named Anne, Jane, Nicholas, Henry? Yet, we don't all think of just one book when thinking of each name.

3 moms found this helpful

What about keeping the name and using an alternate spelling.
like my son's name is normally spelled J-a-s-o-n, we use Jayson as the spelling for his name.

2 moms found this helpful

Can you tell us what the name is? Its really hard to say without knowing that. However I do think it will be a stretch that people associate your name and the name in this book. You give readers too much credit! And I wouldn't have a problem reading a book with Harry or Alice either-maybe that is just a thing for you.

2 moms found this helpful

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