Dianne Pegg

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D. P. Pegg's Blog

Writers write, so write!

NAME GAMES

Keeping your characters’ names distinctive

I RESPECT AUTHORS, but once in a while I’ll find something in a book that bothers me to the point that I stop reading and many times it’s a book I like, an author I like. It doesn’t matter if I stop reading for a nanosecond, 5 minutes, or 5 years, the author has driven a wedge between their work and me. You don’t want to do that!

I’m talking about character names. You know what I mean, an author uses: Sampson, Samuelson, Simpson, Sanderson, Swanson, Sharon, Sandy, and Sally, whew, I’m out of breath, ALL IN THE SAME BOOK.

These are not the unfamiliar names you would find in Anna Karenina, but good old everyday names. If an author used that list of names, the personalities, jobs and physical descriptions of each character would have to be so detailed and particular to that character to keep then straight the plot would be lost. If I come across of list of names like that I keep a piece of paper and pen next to my chair where I’ve listed every person’s name, what they did, who they’re related to, to remind me if I’m currently reading about Molly, Millie, or Tillie. This takes my attention from their work and the only action that chore inspires me to take is to close the book.

What can you do to avoid this dilemma? For each book I write, I jot down all 26 letters of the alphabet on a separate piece of paper and write in the first and last names of my continuing characters according to the first letters of each of their names. There are no duplicates allowed unless it’s a case of relatives and marriages. Like the rest of the country, more of my names begin with ‘R,’ ‘S,’ and ‘T,’ than ‘X,’ but that’s okay. I try to use a variety of vowels as the second letter and have those with the same letter name appear in different places in the book. The other characters receive names beginning with the leftover letters so I can spread my names over as much of the alphabet as possible. This gives me a more varied list of names than the one I used above.

Give this method a try, it may work for you.

Writers write, so write!
D. P. Pegg

Here’s a sample of what I’m talking about. Many characters are not listed here, but you get the idea:

A – ALECIA (REMINGTON, TED’S MOTHER)
B – BERYL (SLOAN, HALLI’S AUNT)
C –
D – DOUG (KNOX, DETECTIVE, VARGA’S PARTNER)
E –
F – FOREST GLEN, FGPD,
G – GIOVANNI (VARGA, LYNN’S FATHER)
H – HALLI ( SLOAN, TED’S FRIEND)
HEATHER (DOUG KNOX’S DAU.)
I –
J – JENNIFER (DOUG KNOX’S DAU.),
JIM (WILDER, MEDICAL EXAMINER)
K – KNOX
L – LIANNA (‘LYNN’ VARGA, DET. KNOX’S PARTNER)
M – MARCIA (DOUG KNOX’S WIFE), MICHIGAN
N –
O – OAKLAND COUNTY
P –
Q –
R – REMINGTON
S – SLOAN
T – TED (REMINGTON, HALLI SLOAN’S FRIEND, SON OF ALECIA)
U –
V – VARGA
W – WILDER
X –
Y
Z –

name games dianne p pegg author

Dianne Pegg

dppegg@dppegg.com

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