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Someone took my bad guy's name!

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by DragonOfTheAerie, Aug 24, 2016.

  1. Actually it didn't get 'taken' necessarily...but it still could cause some problems.

    in the book I was reading the other day, I was horrified to discover that the villain's name is the EXACT SAME THING as MY villain's name. Pure coincidence. It's a made-up name I came up with a couple years ago, but apparently was also seperately invented by someone else.

    What's worse, said book is the same genre (fantasy) and also has some other coincidental similarities that might lead people to think I copied the name. The book is fairly popular too. Not likely to fall into obscurity anytime soon.

    Can I still use it? I don't know, so I wanted to get y'all's opinion.
     
  2. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    It's hard to say. What's the name and the book that uses it? Without knowing, I would say the more popular the other book is or exotic/unique the name is, the more you should consider changing it. If it's Voldemort you should change it. If it's Jamie, you can keep it.
     
  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Don't worry about it. If you worry about it despite my sage advice <grin>, you could change the spelling a bit.

    I recently had a look at No Man's Sky. With its procedurally generated worlds, each with its own plants and animals, I decided that this game has pre-emptively used ever possible name ever available to a fantasy writer. They already called dibs.

    So, don't worry about it. It's already been done. Procedurally.
     
  4. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    Well, look at it this way, when I read The Lies of Locke Lamora, I realized Scott Lynch used at least two of my names. So...at least it isn't two you have to worry about (and I'm only going to change one of them). HA! Not to mention we have some major overlaps on our ideas. Both cities based on Venice, multiple similar story elements, and a general gritty tone. It's just...going to look like I copied some stuff, which sort of stings because I didn't read that book until I'd finished the third draft of my story.
     
  5. I mean...I could change the name, but I really like it. It's cool sounding. I don't know how many will make the connection, since the character in question that "took" my name is usually referred to by her title rather than her name.
     
  6. I've found plenty of other names that have been used elsewhere. But, some of them are actually names rather than made up, and most of them were minor characters or in low-profile books.

    I once named a river the Durin and I didn't even know anything about LOTR or the Hobbit. I've also seen names copied between books. Weird how these things happen...
     
  7. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    It gets worse. There was a Johnny Depp flick where he played a vampire, and in it were several things similar to a vampire comedy script I wrote years before that movie, but that happens. Names are simple to overlap.

    Many many years ago... like before you were born, I was playing an online game with a couple characters with names I totally made up... One turned out to be a city in Africa during the time of Hannibal. The other was vaguely similar to Voldemort, and I got asked if I named my character after him... I was like who the hell are you talking about? Harry Potter, who the hell is that? By the time Potter came out that character had been around for 4 years or so.

    Man, that was annoying. Rowling and I got off on the wrong foot and stayed that way, LOL.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
  8. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    You mean the Dark Shadows film adaptation with Johnny Depp?
     
  9. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    I wanted to use Agamemnon for the name of one of my main villains. Not the best choice, given it's the name of a well known historical figure from antiquity.
     
  10. Holoman

    Holoman Troubadour

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    Can you change the spelling so that's it's not identical? Or maybe just change the name slightly if it bothers you to have the same one.
     
  11. SaltyDog

    SaltyDog Sage

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    Best answer? Name him John. No one will ever accuse you of copying. Lol I'm kidding.

    Luckily, I have yet to encounter where one of my villains, or even random characters have names of other book's characters.
     
  12. I guess I'm wondering how much trouble I'll get in for using that name. I definitely don't want to be accused of copying...but will anyone notice...? No way to tell.
     
  13. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

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    If it's Harry Potter then yes, people may notice. If it's a pretty obscure or common name, I seriously doubt it.
     
  14. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    If it were me, I'd change it. I'm like that with names. I've spent hours before doing Google searches for names just to see if they've been used, how they've been used, and how often they've been used. A few hits, non-fantasy related or in some obscure work, are fine. But then, I've rejected names simply because I discovered some player on WoW used it for his character. Heh.

    But that's for main characters. Side characters–my side characters to their side characters–I don't worry about it or might change the spelling slightly.

    I do become attached to names for main characters once I've chosen them, but that's in part because I've spent so much time trying to find one I liked that hasn't been used. It's him. Or her. No doppelgangers for me, thank you very much.
     
  15. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    How are you planning to publish this story with the similar name? That will give you the a answer to how much trouble you can get into.
     
  16. SaltyDog

    SaltyDog Sage

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    Depends on how popular your book is and how the other one is.
     
  17. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    If by "trouble," you mean legal trouble, I don't find that likely barring a few exceptions. If you mean readers thinking you stole it...if it is a made up name and the only other occurrence is in that other work, and you're likely to have overlap in readers, then it may occur to some readers. I suspect the number of readers who will care will be pretty small.
     
    Reaver likes this.
  18. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

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    Believe me when I tell you this folks, this is expert advice. Take heed.
     
  19. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Inkling

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    Are you sure it's a made up name? Have you tried goggling it just to see if it doesn't relate on to this book. It could be a foreign name or something, I don't know.

    If it is most definitely made up then you may have to just accept the fact someone beat you to it. People (as you said) might see it as too much of a coincidence. Plus you said there are similarities in in other areas. But then there always will be in the same genre.

    You could slightly change the spelling.
     
  20. I did. It's actually the name of an obscure kind of weapon...
     
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