All blogs are property of authors and copying is not permitted.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Do you have a Sally, Sissy, Sibyl, Shani, Sharon, Stacy and Starr in your story?

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
erotic contemporary

Come Fill Me - Book One The Prophecy
erotic paranormal


Tina Donahue
“Heat with Heart”

LOSING CONTROL (available now)
COME FILL ME (4 STARS - The Jeep Diva)

Amazon author page:


Sandy said...

LOL Tina, you were on a roll there. I'm still laughing, but I do know what you mean. I've never done it, but I've read books that drove me crazy because of the names being so similar.

Those covers are hot, but the first one was the hottest for me. I think it was because it was lighter but not sure.

Paris said...

Great post, Tina! First, let me say that you have more patience than I do:) I probably would have passed the book on--with a warning.

Congratulations on your latest smokin' hot releases!

Nicole Morgan said...

Haha.. until you mentioned it, I hadn't thought of that, but that would be confusing to read a story with similar names. I try to find things different and not done to death. So, hopefully that gives my editors reasons to be a little bit happy with me. :)

The 2 books look great!

Katalina said...

I try to be careful with character names and always choose a hero and heroine's name from different sectors of the alphabet. The names have to look different and not rhyme. No Marty & Mary or Mary & Gary please.

Tina Donahue said...

Hey, Sandy - glad I made you laugh. Honestly, that last book I read had me tearing my hair out. I just couldn't figure out who was doing what!

The covers are sweet, aren't they? I like them both equally. :)

Tina Donahue said...

Thanks, Paris - I really like my latest stories.

No matter how awful a book is, I keep at it till the bitter end.

Tina Donahue said...

Thanks, Nicole!

Your readers will definitely appreciate it when they can differentiate your characters. :)

Tina Donahue said...

Right on, Kat. I'm surprised so many veteran authors, especially those at the top of the major lists, don't stop to consider how confusing their writing is when everyone's name starts with the same letter or sounds the same.

jean hart stewart said...

Funny, but true. I always check and if I find my ms. has confusing names change it. Keeping a list as you write is a good idea. Loved the column and the covers...

Tina Donahue said...

Thanks, Jean! These covers are two of my favs. They're so different, but equally beautiful. :)

Share buttons