View Full Version : Should I use a real name or made-up one?

nancy sv
01-07-2008, 09:13 PM
In the final chapter of my book I am answering some FAQ's. In one of my responses, I want to write about an incident that took place a few miles from my home shortly after I returned. A bicyclist was killed by a car, and her family painter her bike white and chained to the street light post at the corner where she was hit. They also hung a little sign on the bike - God Bless You, Sarah Howard.

Anyway, I didn't know Sarah, but the little tribute to her really hit me in a lot of ways and I want to make reference to it. Should I put her real name in there or should I make up a name? On the one hand, I would like someone be able to verify that "fact" if they wanted (can't imagine anyone would want to but....) On the other hand, it kind of feels like an invasion of their privacy - even though they are the ones who put the bike and sign out there in the first place. What do you think?

01-07-2008, 09:15 PM
Could you remove the name and say you had done so to protect the family's privacy?

When mentioning the sign you could write, "God Bless you, [person's name]" or somesuch.

nancy sv
01-07-2008, 09:17 PM
I could. I'm just not sure which way would be best?? It seems to hold so much power when it is a person - a real person. Does that make sense? But I also realize it might not be kosher - I just don't know.

01-07-2008, 09:47 PM
I'd avoid using the person's name, unless you contact the family and say why you want to include the reference. Their response will give you a way to gauge how to proceed -- if they're thrilled that it's moved you that much, you can probably use the name just fine, but they might be hesitant as well.

01-07-2008, 09:47 PM
I think that since they created a public tribute, they are comfortable with the full name being out there.

On edit: I agree with Mayntz, though, that the kindest thing to do is to contact the family and let them know that this is your intention.

If you use a pseudonym, let me recommend "Rachel Parr" (Biblical first name, wife-of-Henry VIII last name, just like Sarah Howard).

nancy sv
01-07-2008, 10:07 PM
I like the "contact the family" approach - even though I don't want to actually contact them!! In all reality, it won't be that bad I suppose. Still, it is kind of an odd request...

I'll have to think abut the Rachel Parr option!