When you’re writing a novel you have to come up with a lot of character names and descriptions. This isn’t a movie about a lone guy stuck on a deserted island with just a volley ball, you know. For my writing style I like to briefly give descriptions and then let the reader’s imagination take over and fill in some of the blanks. I’ve read many stories where in my head I picture one thing and then suddenly there is a line of description that completely messes up the picture that was in my head.
For names I often get a name that just appears in my head and I have to write it down. Other names are from friends and family that I throw in there. If anyone is going to be in a major role I try to make sure I talk to them first. For instance a victim in RED ISLAND is named after a former co-worker of mine. I don’t remember if she asked if she could be in the book or if I asked her to be a character. Either way Nicolle became a murder victim in the novel along with the tattoo on the back of her shoulder. The killer was already focused on women with tattoo’s on the backs of their shoulders. If I remember right this was not why Nicolle became a vic., just a lucky coincidence.
I see using someone’s name as my way of showing respect to people I know and people I look up to. My main character is Sgt. Reid, named after the character Dr. Spencer Reid from the television show Criminal Minds. My character looks nothing like the TV one and his first name is completely different. (True, the reader doesn’t actually get to know what Reid’s first name is, but I can guarantee you it is not Spencer….but Spencer is the main character in mu upcoming novel THE CISTERN)
RED ISLAND characters who’s names are taken from reality, sorta.
Hillary Reid…I was watching a name with Hillary Swank in it at the time I needed a name.
Leigh Reid…this is Reid’s daughter. Her first name is my daughter’s middle name
Sgt. Deborah English…her last name is taken from Chef Todd English
Corporal Al Dispirito….Chef Rocco Dispirito
Corporal Gordon Longfellow…Chef Gordon Ramsay
Constable Husk…named after my Granddad
Staff Sergeant Barry Tulloch…named after my father-in-law
Ted Mosby…a very small character named after the character Ted Mosby from TV show How I Met Your Mother (can you guess what show I was watching)
Dr. Ferron…at the time I wrote the novel my boss was Kyle Ferron
Hanni Van Uden…my wife’s Grandmother
Mr. Nowe…named after a former co-worker and one of the best cooks I know Jason Nowe
Casey Marsh…the last name is the last name of a character in Stephen King’s IT
Kenneth Oliver…this is my father’s name. When I origionally wrote the novel my father’s name was used for the character that is now my father-in-law’s spot. My father’s dream was always to own a ranch called the Circle K Ranch…so when it was time to write in the owner of a horse stable I was able to give my father his dream.
Heather Blais (Colicchio)…named after Chef’s Richard Blais and Tom Colicchio
Dr. Brandi Mooney…Brandi is my wife’s name. She named our daughter after Elizabeth Shue’s character, Jordan Mooney, in the movie Cocktail, so I gave her the last name.
Ben Cooper…last name is from the character Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory
The one thing I am usually strict about is that unless an acquaintance tells me they are okay with it I do not plan on naming a victim after someone I know. Though I do have Nicolle in RED ISLAND and in the upcoming novel RED SERGE the main victim is named Kayla Schofield after a friend of mine. My son is also back as a different character and the character of Cassie Michaels is introduced. Around Christmas time I joined a group of other Indie Author’s in a blog hop to get our names out there. One of my prizes that I was giving was to name a new character in RED SERGE. The winner picked her daughter’s and husband’s names giving us Cassie Michaels. There are other characters in the new book who are named after real people, but we’ll deal with that later.
And for THE CISTERN so far I am going the other way. Instead of using names the characters seem to be based on people.
If you are going to use friends names for your characters you have to know the person and know whether they are going to get offended or not. You never want to hurt someone's feelings.