Be Careful When Naming Your Characters

by kalbzayn on May 29, 2007

A Pakistani musician recently was ordered by the Pakistani Supreme Court to change the lyrics to his song.   What horrible things did he sing?  It’s hard to say since I don’t speak Punjabi.  The basic complaint appears to be that a girl was getting made fun of because she happened to share the name of a girl in the song.

So for all of you with geeks or dweebs or bullies or crack dealers or people of a human variety in your stories, you might want to preemptively change all of the names to random numbers.  Once the U.S. lawyers get wind of this, authors/poets/songwriters every where could be in trouble.

Just make sure your random numbers are not the length of phone numbers, social security numbers, birth dates, DVD encryption keys,  or school locker combinations or you might still be at risk.

If you are thinking about naming one of your characters Mike, please forward me a copy of the book/movie/song so that I can make sure I am not offended.

{ 4 comments }

strugglingwriter May 30, 2007 at 6:24 am

Todd Mcfarland lost a lot of money because he named one of his villians Tony Twistinelli and the real like hockey player Tony Twist sued him and won.

I wrote a ficlet a while back and one of the commenters said they would’ve rated it higher but I had used a character name from some sci fi show I hadn’t seen. Of course this gave the reader a pre-disposed notion of the character.

Anyhow, this story is crazy and hopefully won’t make it here.

kalbzayn June 1, 2007 at 8:17 pm

You can use my name for any of the characters and I promise not to sue…as long as I get a percentage of any sales/revenue the story generates in print/film/computer game in the US or abroad. I’ll have my lawyers call your lawyers.

Bonnie June 7, 2007 at 8:44 am

I must confess that the hero in my current work is named Mike. Since he’s the hero and not the duplicitous actor that the heroine is initially attracted to, I’m sure you’ll be okay with it. And since I’ve been working on this novel for way longer than I’ve known you, I’m hoping you won’t sue…even though the fictional Mike has one eye in the center of his forehead and terminal halitosis. ;)

kalbzayn June 7, 2007 at 9:01 am

Yep, that sounds just like me. I’ll be calling my lawyers.

You’ve been working on that book longer than you’ve known me? That’s been about 1 1/2 years! Just slap “The End” on it and get it out the door already. I’ve got to read your book with a cyclops as the hero. There are not nearly enough cyclops heros in literature.

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