Mister Atoz wrote:
Hey Mars Weeps, I heard once that writers have to base their character names on something they know -- a derivatiive of a friend, relative, or something with which they are familiar, otherwise they risk being SUED by someone with that actual name (who the writer has no knowledge of) for defamation of character. Is that right?
I've been a professional writer for 15 years and nobody's ever told me I had to do that.
As a rule, in TV and movies, a character name is only off-limits if only one real person in the country has that name, or if someone very similar to the character (same profession or same city of residence, say) has that name. For instance, Scott Bakula's Enterprise
character was changed from Jackson Archer to Jonathan Archer because there was only one Jackson Archer in the country. And the TV series of The Dresden Files
had to change Chicago Detective Karrin Murphy's name to Connie Murphy because there was a real Chicago detective named Karen Murphy (although that wasn't a problem for the books, probably because there's a lot less money and awareness involved and thus less risk of costly lawsuits). But TNG and DS9 were able to have a character named Miles O'Brien even though there was a CNN reporter named Miles O'Brien, because it was a common enough name and they were in different enough professions that it wouldn't be taken as a reference to that specific person.