Naming Your Protagonist After Yourself

As I recently mentioned, I have finally started work on my feature length script for next years University assignment. This has gone round and round in my mind and thanks to feedback from my awesome readers it has took a slightly different path now, but that’s for the best.

The story now stands like this;

A British photographer goes to work at an American Summer Camp, but when shadows start to appear lurking behind the children in the photographs, the protagonist stumbles upon something that spans whole realities.

 

This is the basic premise of the plot, the tagline so to speak (although it needs a major rewrite to be a very compelling tagline).

What is it that our protagonist stumbles upon you ask? He stumbles upon just one of many portals, connecting our world to another reality, realm, universe etc. And at first the shadows that he encounters from this other world seem to be full of nefarious intent, but as the story progresses you learn that they are actually just protecting themselves as we, as humans, are not only destructive by nature, tearing our own planet apart, but with the amount of experiments going on we are getting ever closer to travelling to new worlds and realities. And the denizensΒ of this reality have had to take certain, precautions, to stop us doing this, because they no we will go forth and try to conquer everything we find.

It will be a science fiction/fantasy piece, not sure what age yet, but probably teenagers.

But my question (as the title of this post suggests) is this. Is naming the protagonist after yourself big headed? I know it has been done before, but as the whole “kids goes to summer camp” thing is based on what actually happened to me, when thinking of possible dialogue scenes in my head I’ve always called him Daniel in my head, as that’s my name. But in all my notes I’ve just called him “Protag” as I’ve been reluctant really to name him anything, but I’m thinking I will just go for it and call him Daniel, if in the future no-ones like it, I guess I can change it!

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28 thoughts on “Naming Your Protagonist After Yourself

  1. In two of my scripts the protag is named after me. One is John, the other is Jack. Often they’ll have a J name like Jake. Just helps sometimes. I often name characters after people whose voice I want to emulate.

    1. Yeah it is definitely easier (: I just wasn’t sure how people would react if they were like “oh the main character is named after the writer”, I guess in films it doesn’t matter too much because the screenwriter is usually over looked, its the actors and directors that get the fame πŸ˜›

      Whereas for a novel I guess it’d be more apparent, but that’s not a bad thing I guess. For example, Darren Shan, his first set of books were so good and the main character was called Darren Shan πŸ˜›

  2. Just an idea: why don’t you name one of the shadows Daniel and the human Protag? It’ll give you the chance to free your alter-ego and put “you” into many different perspectives and it’ll give you a certain distance from the protagonist as well.

  3. If I’m tempted to name a character after myself, I look it up on baby name websites to find names with a similar meaning or sound. πŸ™‚ It keeps a connection without it being so obvious.

    1. I do that too… scared the crap out of my husband when he saw me looking up baby names πŸ˜€

  4. I wrote a screenplay with the main character called Ruth, which was my nickname at the time. I usually don’t give my name to protagonists as I worry that I’ll make them too much like me, which frankly would make for a very boring story. But I’ve seen it done well in some places, the Darren Shan books (starting with Cirque du Freak) have a main character called Darren, which adds a kind of “could it be real?” immersion to it. There was also the Neil Gaiman short story ‘The Facts in the Case of the Disappearance of Miss Finch” which, whilst it never outright refers to the narrator as Neil, portrays a sushi-loving fantasy author who is quite clearly Gaiman.

    Hope that helps some πŸ™‚

    1. I think I mentioned Darren Shan in a comment so someone else actually, they’re such amazing books, and at no point did I hold it against the author πŸ˜› I’ve never heard of that short story, what’s it about?

      1. Basically, the unnamed protagonist (wink) goes for dinner with his friends John and Jane (based off Johnathan Ross and Jane Goldman) and an uptight female acquaintance. They go to see a new avant-garde circus show, which, this being Gaiman, is more than meets the eye. It’s very good. It’s in the Smoke and Mirrors collection as a short story, and published as its own little book with illustrations by Charles Vess (I think)

  5. Ah, makes me wish I could write fiction. 😦 If I could, though, I wouldn’t name anyone after me. Oh, if it’s a romantic fiction and I’m the guy for the girl and I’m making the guy very honest, caring and deserving, I might then consider replacing his name with mine. πŸ˜€

      1. I’d actually love to. But English is my second language and I haven’t taken, nor here is available any English learning institutes (more like creative writing courses).

        I wrote a few fiction in Bangla, but I’m not really digging it. 😐

  6. I don’t think that it would be egolistical to name a character after yourself. After reading over the comments, I may try it myself. I have a baby naming book that I have had to explain to more than one boyfriend. The look in their eyes when they notice it on the shelf or in my hands is always priceless.

  7. I’ve had the worst time trying to choose a name for characters in some of my short stories, including the protagonist. Alternatively, I’ve come up with names for characters within seconds. My favorite method is to decide what type of sound quality the name should carry to embody the impression and main feeling of the character. Should it have a rising quality, a French sound, be long, be short and blunt, or be long and flowing. So maybe you can try thinking about first impressions and sound quality. Good luck!

    1. My biggest thing drawing me to naming the character after myself is because the story I’m telling is my story, I did all this (bar the fantasy bits) so I figure, if it’s based on me why not name him me, but then it does seem a bit strange, for example if I want to write in that the protagonists girlfriend was super beautiful people would be like “Well he just wishes that was him”, it’s that prejudice that unfortunately can hold people, myself included, back in some sense.

  8. I’d probably go with calling the protag one of your nicknames, or perhaps your middle name. I agree, as you said in an earlier reply, that a novelist cannot get away with this as easily as screenwriters, you still have to think that this is a University project. I would be more wary of naming the main character after myself if I’m going to be critiqued by my peers directly. I don’t know the exact situation though, obviously. Can’t wait to see more posts about this project! The premise is very interesting. ^_^

    1. Unfortunately I have no middle name OR nicknames haha. Yeah I guess as a piece of University work maybe the marks would be affected? Unoriginal name generation = – 1 mark lol (I hope not!)

      And thanks, I hope I don’t disappoint (:

  9. Even though I’ve been tempted a time or two to name a character after myself for whatever reasons, I have never named a character after myself. Not because it seems egotistical, but rather because, I want my characters to have a unique name of their own in order to conquer their world in their own way. Naming a character after myself, though it would be fun at times, I feel that it detracts from the personality of the character by shifting focus back to oneself.

    Though we look inside ourselves for ideas and stories that we may be able to share with others, having a character named after oneself, in my opinion, limits the writer’s imagination to discover new things about the character in the story by constantly looking at that character as though they were looking into a mirror. If it were a memoir, then so be it.

    1. Thanks for your comment (:

      I too have never named someone after myself before, because I love thinking of the names and back stories, it’s almost as fun as writing the plot! But in this case, whilst obviously a piece of fiction, the character is me, he’s doing the things I did (bar the whole you know, going on a magical adventure) but because the normal non magic events I will be writing about actually happened I feel like maybe I should call the character Daniel, as in the end he is pretty much and the journey I went through whilst doing this amazing part of my life, will also be the characters journey if you get what I mean (:

      1. I understand where you’re coming from. The story is your own and a part of your life to write about and share however you wish to. Don’t allow reality to diminish the wonders of fantasy, though.

  10. I don’t feel like it’s egotistical if you can do it right. One of my biggest fears with my own writing is putting in Mary Sues, or annoyingly perfect one dimensional characters, The name doesn’t matter as long as the characters are well written. One of my favorite books, City of Glass by Paul Auster, has the narrator (a writer) mistaken for Paul Auster, a detective. You can have all sorts of fun with that kind of thing.

    Also, this could make you feel better or worse, but I’ve heard most readers don’t really pay attention to the author’s name.

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