Tip Tuesday — The Name Game

Ah, writers. We do get attached to our characters’ names, don’t we? So much so that sometimes we want to use them ALL THE TIME. Like, as often as we can. This is nowhere more apparent than in dialogue.

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In everyday conversation, we rarely use names (unless we are talking about someone). Think about it. Unless we’re angry with the person or trying to get their attention, we just talk to them. Yet in writing there’s a tendency to shove the character’s name in dialogue as often as is possible. This can make dialogue seem forced and unnatural.

“Kate, we should go to the movies,” Will said.

“Yes, Will, that would be awesome,” Kate responded, grabbing the newspaper. “What should we see?”

“I don’t care, Kate. Whatever you want to see.”

“Ah, Will, that’s so sweet of you?”

People generally don’t talk like that. This how that bit of dialogue should read:

“We should go to the movies,” Will said.

“Yes, that would be awesome,” Kate responded, grabbing the newspaper. “What should we see?”

“I don’t care. Whatever you want to see.”

“Ah, that’s so sweet of you?”

The scene is identical and taking out the names doesn’t add any confusing.

So use names in dialogue sparingly and you’ll dialogue will greatly improve.

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