Names Have Power

by Tim Kane

Every time you use character names in your writing, you are hitting your readers full in the face with power. The goal is to cut out as many names as possible. This seems counter-intuitive. You think: but people say names all the time. True. But writing isn’t a copy of real life (that’s a documentary, folks). Writing is how life should be. Here are some tips for keeping name repetition down.

Use Pronouns
That’s what the pronoun is for. Use it. Especially in narration.

Gary slid down the pole.

Changes into…

He slid down the pole.

Maintain Clarity
Ok, you can’t change everything to pronouns. Then the reader couldn’t tell what what happening. I once read a book were there were no dialogue tags (he said/she said) and after a few exchanges I could couldn’t tell which way was up. I was so confused. So yes, use character names when starting new scenes or chapters.

Cut Names from Dialogue
Yes it’s true, we holler people’s names all the time. I recall my folks screaming my name quite a few times as a kid. Yet, writing is not true to life. It’s life improved. Repeating names can grate on the reader. We notice the names and not the action.

I’ve told you, Samantha, clean up your things.


I’ve told you, clean up your things.

Bottom line, keep names for clarity. Otherwise, cut those names.


About Tim Kane

Tim Kane is a young adult fiction writer.
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2 Responses to Names Have Power

  1. I really like this. I’m all for cutting, but never realized the normal conversational use of names is actually wordy.

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