July 23, 2012

A Writer's Life - My name is mine and mine alone

Recently a weird thought hit me. Of course, weird thoughts hit me all the time, but this one did stand out. Literally. In front of my nose. Like a thought bubble you see in cartoons. The thought didn't strike me while writing. Not even in a phase of plotting. I was reading when suddenly a question appeared in front of me like a floating banner and made the pages I've just been concentrating on kinda blurry. Alright, it was late too and I had just orchestrated a yawning symphony which might have something to do with my perception. Yet. The question was there and it actually made me put down the book, not because I was so very tired, but due to the fact that my mind needed room for further contemplation.

Do authors ever use their own names for any of their characters?

So, do they? As for myself I can negate the question.
First of all, my stories are usually set in either alien worlds (which calls for unique names, quite obviously), or if I do remain on planet Earth, my characters can be found anywhere between Boston and Dublin (aka the English-speaking world). The latter would not easily accommodate my hard to pronounce name in a satisfying manner to the reader.
Secondly, I most likely wouldn't pick the English version of my name, being Bridget, either.

The logical question would be why not?

For one, my name is already part of the book. Think author's name on the cover. And then it would just be odd to write about someone who's obviously not yourself yet listens to the same name. I'm well aware that in real life people who've got the same name often know each other, in fact we had three (yes, three) Birgit's in my class back in high school which didn't bother the three of us as much as our teachers, as I'd like to add. Basically, when our name's been called we just pretended that the teacher must have meant one of the others. Plus it didn't exactly help that one of the other Birgit's was my best friend and we sat side by side in class. But I digress.


My point is, using your own name seems a bit strange when naming characters. I guess I shouldn't rule out ever using the variation of Bridget, but still. I wouldn't even go so far as to say it'd be narcissistic to do this, but one thing's for certain - as much as a reader will sometimes wonder about how much of the author him/herself, can be found in a certain character, the same name would feel like a bit of a not so subtle hint that the author might have put more of him/herself into this fictitious person. Obviously this doesn't even have to be the case, but it's understandable why one could come to this conclusion.

Now, does anyone know about authors who used their names for one of their characters? Any Stephen to be found in a King novel? Any Joanne in a Harry Potter book? Personally I never consciously noticed authors using their first names in a book, but maybe you did?

And if you're a writer yourself - would you ever name one of your characters after yourself? Or maybe you already have? Let me know.

6 comments:

  1. I think I came across at least two characters named Jane when I read Jane Austen. Other than that I can't think of an example of author's naming characters after themselves, but I would love to hear other.

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    1. Now that's interesting to know! I should finally sit down and read her novels and not just watch the movies *blushes*.

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  2. Amy is a popular name here in the states for women around my age. Frequently, at work, I find myself calling people and saying 'Hi Amy, this is Amy from.... '. It's WEIRD!!! I don't think I could do it in my writing.

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    1. Tell me about it. We had three Birgit's in my class back in high school ... I might introduce an Amy in my own writing though *dumdidum*.

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  3. Other than Jane mentioned above (and Billy Shakes probably had a few Williams, too, I'd bet), I can't really think of any examples, but I know I have at least two characters with my name (actual and a nickname). They're unabashed self-inserts, really, and I've thought a lot of changing them, but I like the tongue-in-cheek too much.

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    1. Argh, totally overlooked your comment, sorry about that!

      I never thought of it like this, though I'd probably do one of those unabashed self-inserts in a more subtle way, eg the same initials or something like that. Then of course there's a little (or big) piece of me in each one of my characters already, so I might never actually do that. And hey, if it works I'd stick to it and wouldn't change it either if I were you. A little tongue-in-cheek humor never hurts!

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