Over time, I've heard editors, publishers, other writers and sometimes fans complain about head-hopping (switching POVs within the same scene), lackluster sex scenes, sex scenes with no romance just gymnastics, tacked on endings, stilted dialogue, you name it.
However, I've yet to hear the one thing that really bothers - and confuses - me. Writers who give their characters similar names.
Recently, I finished a hefty (800+ pages) novel by a NYT bestselling author. No, it wasn't a romance. It was kind of mainstream horror (I think). Wasn't a bad story, but OMG, every freaking character's name was so similar I had to keep stopping and thinking, "Now,who is this guy (gal)? Was this the one who did - no wait, that was the other one, wasn't it?"
Even after finishing the book, I'm still not sure.
Imagine getting into a plot, then having the writer do something like this:
Breathless, Tom strode into the room and spied Troy. "Troy," Tom shouted, "have you seen Tim? Did you shoot Tim...or was it Trent?"
"Trent?" Troy gasped. "Of course not. Trent and Tim are friends. They're as close as Theo and Tate are. You know that Tom."
Tom's chest puffed with his heavy breathing. He didn't believe Troy for a moment. He knew Troy had never liked Theo and Tate and as far as Trent was concerned, Troy didn't know anything about the bastard.
"Fine," Tom growled, "we'll just have to bring Tad into this to see if he can sort it out."
Good luck with that Tom - or Tim, Tad, Trent, whatever. EEEEEEEEE. My eyes are still spinning.
Early on, I learned never to use similar names for characters. To avoid this, I write "First Names" on a sheet of paper. Beneath it I have the alphabet - A to Z. Under that, I write "Last Names" with the alphabet beneath that heading. As I name my characters, I strike through the letters of the alphabet, never using one more than once if I can help it.
But I don't stop there.If I have a Brandi, I don't also want a Teri, with both names ending in 'i". If there's a Theo, I don't use Otto for another character. I make certain the names not only look different from each other but sound different.
Trust me, it helps with comprehension and doesn't drag you out of the story as you're trying to figure out who is who. :)
My latest erotic romances have just been released!
Losing Control, Book Two Appointment with Pleasure
Come Fill Me - Book One The Prophecy
“Heat with Heart”
LOSING CONTROL (available now)
COME FILL ME (4 STARS - The Jeep Diva)
ILLICIT DESIRE (4 STARS - ROMANTIC TIMES)
SENSUAL STRANGER (BOOK OF THE YEAR 2010)
DEEP, DARK, DELICIOUS (HOLT MEDALLION AWARD OF MERIT)
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/tinadonahue