Mol (mollyringle) wrote,

Over-using character names within dialogue: don't do it

Dialogue-writing tip: don't overuse characters' names within their speech. For example:

"Would you like some eggs, Dolores?"
"Melvin, you know I'm allergic to them."
"Are you? I'm sorry, Dolores, I'd forgotten."
"It's all right, Melvin. But please pass me the toast."

In real life it's basically only annoying people in sales who keep using your name that frequently in conversation. Or your parents or significant other when they're annoyed with you. So if that's not the point you're trying to make, pull those names out. Read the above passage without the character names and you'll see it sounds several times more natural (with two dialogue tags added to show who's speaking, which tend to be much less intrusive than sticking the name into the speech itself):

"Would you like some eggs?" Melvin asked.
"You know I'm allergic to them," Dolores said.
"Are you? I'm sorry, I'd forgotten."
"It's all right. But please pass me the toast."

You can find this bit of dialogue advice everywhere, but I keep seeing the problem in published best-selling writing, so I'm sharing this tip with you now in the hopes of spreading the word just a tad further.
Tags: writing

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