Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Living or Dead Is Purely Coincidental...

You know that disclaimer at the beginning of books and the end of movies that runs something along the lines of:

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Well, besides the fact that I understand why such a disclaimer exists, I now even more so do.  I just Google'd (as they say) the names of the characters in the novel I'm working on... and YES, all three of them are real guys somewhere in the world - or had been.  (One of them is deceased, appropraitely for this book.)  One is off by a single letter.

I went on to try the main character of What If It's a Trick Question?  Yep.  There's some guys out there with HIS name, too.

If only it were possible to come up with a character name that is not an actual person!

Actually, it is possible.  I've done it.  Well, I have at least done so in the sense of defying the 'almighty' Google.  The main character of my two-books-finished-and-one-other-started-Quadrilogy doesn't show up.   And neither do the main two guys from my novel Midnight Chaser... except in the boy's case to show up from one of my own posts.  Then again...these stand-alone moninkers are probably the result of my purposeful desire to create unheard of names.  For example, the boy's last name comes from a Danish word that's not used as a surname.  And the Quadrilogy character's surname is derived from a mis-spoken line of someone my best friend Laughter once knew.

I would prefer to always invent 'pure' characters, of course.  But I've learned that's not really feasible in the least.  I had such fun trouble finding the names of the guys in this new book that I can't imagine having to literally (pun noted) create some that didn't previously exist and then still have character approval/confirmation on them!  And besides, utterly invented names do not always sound plausible.

By the way, the 'disclaimer' in Peter Pan's NeverWorld, since it does in fact deal with some real places & events and Michael is partially based on a real person, reads:

References to real locales, people or historical events are used fictitiously. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of imagination and any resemblance to actual locales, events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

And yes, "are products of imagination" refers to/includes Sir J.M. Barrie as well, but of course.

There's an interesting origin story in its own right attached to the famous "purely coincidental" disclaimer, as told by Wikipedia.

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