Stuff I Know 7: SAY MY NAME! (or perhaps don’t)

stuff I know v2Think about it. When you’re talking to someone, especially someone you know, how often do you say theirr name to them?

“Would you say this  dialogue seems a bit stilted, Cletus Van Der Slice?”

“Indeed, Marion Spools-Chutney, it is as if we are being forced to talk, not like people, but like awkwardly-wielded literary tools.”

If you need to introduce a character’s name, find some other way to do it. Better to say it directly and clearly in the narrative than to force it into dialogue.

In real life I might use someone’s name in a rare, ecstatic greeting (“Alastair!” Eric squeed and ran, arms open. [I don’t actually know anyone named Alastair, but I alway sthought the name was kinda bad-ass]), or a warning (“Alastair!” I pumped a shell into the chamber so he’d know I meant business), or something else that ends with an exclamation mark. But otherwise, people rarely use other peoples’ names at them.

Broader strokes: This notion blows up into the umbrella concept of “If your characters don’t talk like real people, readers will put your story down.”

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