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.

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

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Dec 26, 2018
Why not??
by: DreamDancer

Why not make the two characters the same, or related? Or give them related, but not the same, name?

Jan 26, 2020
What about royal titles vs normal name?
by: Anonymous

Well what if one is royalty? So i have two stories that i'm planning to make. One is a BS (book series) and one is a CB (crossover book). For BS there's a character named Juno but the CB has a character called Queen Juno. Can i keep both names as long the CB character is mostly called by their royal title?

Response: If they are different characters, ask yourself if there will likely be any confusion for readers. Will someone look at the jacket copy and buy the book mistakenly thinking it is about the same character as in your other book?

There are so many possible names. Don't get hung up on one.

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