#9 — Overusing character names
Lately, I’ve seen a few writers overuse character names. They would use a name almost every chance they could. Here’s a fictional example:
John walked over to Laurencia with the biggest smile on his face. He turned with his back away from Laurencia, careful not to let Laurencia see the paper behind his back. John didn’t want her to know the good news yet. “Guess what!” John said, a bit too eagerly.
Now, another way to write that is:
John walked over to Laurencia with the biggest smile on his face. He turned with his back away from her, careful not to let her see the paper behind his back. He didn’t want her to know the good news yet. “Guess what!” he said, a bit too eagerly.
It’s easier for readers to visualize the scene without so many repetitive names. They know who John and Laurencia are, and they know that it’s only the two of them in the scene. The writer doesn’t have to remind them who’s doing what.
The hard part about this is dialogue. I’ll find more repeated names during dialogue than anything else. Even if there are only two characters, some writers will put a name and a dialogue tag with every line. That’s not necessary. It’s easier for readers if there are less names and only a handful of dialogue tags.
Search a character’s name in the search bar and find where they repeat. If you find a cluster of names, change some to pronouns.
This isn’t a hard fix at all. This small change can make a world of a difference for readers.
I hope this helps!