The ABC’s of Naming

Naming characters can be a pretty grueling process.  Or for some folks, the names jump out at them.  Either way, please for the love of God don’t use too many names that are too similar or all start with the same letter.  It makes reading more difficult for the reader because in print, the words start blurring together.

For example, in Lynsay Sands’ novel Bliss (which inspired this post), the hero is Hethe, Lord of Holden aka “The Hammer” (it really takes an effort not to hear Wrestlemania when I see that name). Our  heroine is Helen.  They are ordered by King Henry to marry to stop their quarreling.  Adding to the melee is Helen’s Aunt Nell, whom she is named after.  Looking at the names repeat over and over again gave me a headache, and while I liked the story I felt like I had to put in extra effort to keep the characters straight.

On paper, they look like the same person.  It’s hard to tell them apart because of the way people read:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Indoor Voices Please

One of the worst ways to start a story is by opening with characters screaming and yelling at each other in the dialog.

It’s grating to start a story in the middle of an argument, and it’s jarring to open in a war zone of words.  Imagine walking into building for the first time, and having someone shouting angrily.  You wouldn’t want to be there, would you?  Opening with a whining or screaming dialog is basically greeting the reader in the same way.

If there are exclamation points and capitalized words in the first paragraph, you’re doing something wrong.