For two different books can the main character have the same name?

by Marissa
(Cincinnati)

Question: Ok so I have ideas for two books and when I create the characters my main character has the same name and I've tried to change it but I just don't feel like any other name works for either character and well the books are kind of similar and the characters are too but they are also completely different and have been through different things so is that a problem? Do I have to change the name of one of my main characters or is it ok that they have the same name?


Answer: The risk you run is that if two books, by the same author, have main characters with the same name, readers may assume both books are about the same character. This will lead to confusion and disappointment if the characters are in fact different.

Consider, if you read a mystery novel about Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and you loved the character of Holmes. Then you see there's another book by Doyle also about Sherlock Holmes. You buy it because you want more of that character. But if it turns out the second Sherlock Holmes is a completely different character, you will be disappointed. You might never buy another book by Doyle.

Characters that are successful are like brands. They lead to more sales, but only if they are consistent. Inconsistency in this area will not help your career.

So I suggest that you find a different name for one of the characters. If you are lucky enough to sell both books to a publisher, the publisher will probably insist that the characters have different names, for the above reasons.

You may feel now that only one name works for both these characters, but I will suggest that you have not fully considered all other possible names. Look a little harder, and I suspect you will stumble across a name that fits one character and not the other.

In addition, giving the two characters different names will help prevent you from getting the two characters confused, which will help prevent the traits of one from bleeding into the other.

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