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Name references in groups during dialogue. (1 Viewer)

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Jan

Senior Member
As a beginner writer I feel that I'm rapidly learning new stuff, but I am still very much green. One of the things I seem to struggle the most with right now is figuring out how to avoid referencing characters by name in third person repeatedly during group activities/other scenarios where many established characters are doing many things.

In order to help specify what I mean, I have taken a couple minutes to blitz out a script (that has nothing to do with my current story) but which is written in a similar style.


"As Johnny was walking up to Susan in a slightly irritated fashion, he insists that bringing along Tom for the bachelor party was a horrendous mistake. Upon saying this Susan swiftly ascertains her disagreements, and suggests instead that if there were to be any more problems under any other social circumstance in the future. Then those problems should be brought up right there on the spot. As the two of them go back and forth discussing this, Tom makes a sudden appearance in the hallway where the two are having their discussion. Upon noticing this, Johnny abruptly interrupts himself and proceeds to stay quiet as Tom is approaching. As he gets close, Susan waves at Tom, asks him if everything is ok to which Tom nods and asks when the next class is set to begin, apparently he had lost track of their schedule for the day. She notifies him that class starts in just fifteen minutes at nine a.m sharp. Tom makes an inquiry if the three of them should head down to class right away as this seems to be the most sensible outcome of the situation. Susan nods, Johnny stays quiet for a second and says that he will come shortly. Moments later, Tom and Susan is walking down the hallway in the opposite direction of where Tom entered. Behind them, stand Johnny with a slight blush on his face. It is clear that at this point, he is slightly embarrassed of himself. Johnny realized that Susan was right and that if Tom did bring more trouble next time, it would be worthwhile to bring it up on the spot. Instead of talking behind someones his back."

What I'm mostly looking for, is finding out whether it actually is so bad to reference people by name in circumstances like this? Is it a chore for you as a reader to read all these names in your mind over and over again? Assuming this would've been part of a 100k book, I'd be concerned about myself if I had many parts of the story with this kind of clash with established characters...
 

Sam

General
Patron
What's Johnny and Susan's last names? Do they have nicknames? Do they have shortened names?

Also, you only have one female in the story. Why do you keep calling her 'Susan'? You can substitute it for 'she' and because there's only one female, the reader will know who you're talking about.

In the event you have too many occurrences of 'she', switch back to Susan or her last name.

Variation is key.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
It does seem a little repetitive and choppy. I think there are a couple of things that would improve it. More dialogue and using he and she more. By people speaking to each other you can indicate who is speaking to whom without mentioning their name. Try it more like this:


"As Johnny was walking up to Susan in a slightly irritated fashion, he insists that bringing along Tom for the bachelor party was a horrendous mistake. She quickly disagrees, and says curtly, "if there are to be any more problems under any other social circumstance in the future, then those problems should be brought up right there on the spot!" As the two of them go back and forth discussing this, Tom makes a sudden appearance in the hallway where the two are having their discussion. Johnny sees him and abruptly stops himself and proceeds to stay quiet as he approaches.

As Tom gets closer, Susan waves and asks him: "Is everything is ok?" He nods and asks when the next class is set to begin, as apparently he had lost track of their schedule for the day. She notifies him that class starts in just fifteen minutes at nine a.m sharp.

"Ok thanks! Should we head down to class right away?" Susan nods, and they head towards class.

Johnny stays quiet for a second and says, "I'll come shortly".

Moments later, Tom and Susan are walking down the hallway in the opposite direction from where he'd entered. Behind them, stood Johnny with a slight blush on his face. It is clear that at this point, he is slightly embarrassed of himself, as he realizes Susan was right. If Tom did bring more trouble next time, it would be worthwhile to bring it up on the spot, Instead of talking behind his back."


I'm sure you can improve on it more...but it gives you the idea.
 
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vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
Frankly there are a lot of problems in that sample before you worry about how you identify characters: bad sentence structure, bad grammar (including subject verb agreement), lack of clarity, etc. ... plus breaking up the wall of text. (Good job there, Taylor).

Get It was the Best of Sentences, it was the Worst of Sentences by June Casagrande. It should get you over the other issues quickly and have you writing effective sentences.
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
As a beginner writer I feel that I'm rapidly learning new stuff, but I am still very much green. One of the things I seem to struggle the most with right now is figuring out how to avoid referencing characters by name in third person repeatedly during group activities/other scenarios where many established characters are doing many things.

In order to help specify what I mean, I have taken a couple minutes to blitz out a script (that has nothing to do with my current story) but which is written in a similar style.


"As Johnny was walking up to Susan in a slightly irritated fashion, he insists that bringing along Tom for the bachelor party was a horrendous mistake. Upon saying this Susan swiftly ascertains her disagreements, and suggests instead that if there were to be any more problems under any other social circumstance in the future. Then those problems should be brought up right there on the spot. As the two of them go back and forth discussing this, Tom makes a sudden appearance in the hallway where the two are having their discussion. Upon noticing this, Johnny abruptly interrupts himself and proceeds to stay quiet as Tom is approaching. As he gets close, Susan waves at Tom, asks him if everything is ok to which Tom nods and asks when the next class is set to begin, apparently he had lost track of their schedule for the day. She notifies him that class starts in just fifteen minutes at nine a.m sharp. Tom makes an inquiry if the three of them should head down to class right away as this seems to be the most sensible outcome of the situation. Susan nods, Johnny stays quiet for a second and says that he will come shortly. Moments later, Tom and Susan is walking down the hallway in the opposite direction of where Tom entered. Behind them, stand Johnny with a slight blush on his face. It is clear that at this point, he is slightly embarrassed of himself. Johnny realized that Susan was right and that if Tom did bring more trouble next time, it would be worthwhile to bring it up on the spot. Instead of talking behind someones his back."

What I'm mostly looking for, is finding out whether it actually is so bad to reference people by name in circumstances like this? Is it a chore for you as a reader to read all these names in your mind over and over again? Assuming this would've been part of a 100k book, I'd be concerned about myself if I had many parts of the story with this kind of clash with established characters...
Not an attack, just suggestions.

- Learn and practice when to show and when to tell. This alone will do wonders for your work.
- Work on sentence structure
- White room syndrome would be something to check out
- Work on dialogue

Study Taylor's breakdown. They did a great job of translating your work into something more dynamic and easier to read. I honestly gave up after the first sentence.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
I suggest reading your work out loud. As a couple others have mentioned there are quite a few issues to work on and reading aloud helps these to become more apparent. So far it comes across as a big hurry to tell your story which is fine, it's great to have enthusiasm! But working on some grammar that will split up the ideas into smaller chunks will actually help your work to read more smoothly.

As for how to avoid using the character names so often here's an example of how I think about this:

"Why the hell did you bring Tom of all people?" Johnny wasn't shouting exactly but it was close. (establish who's speaking right at the outset)

"Shove off," Susan replied, "I can do what I want. You have a problem you can tell me but it's my life."
(establish who is replying)

"You're impossible!"
(So far only two people are talking and Susan has just had her turn. The new line indicates that Johnny is answering, that doesn't need to be clarified)

"what's the problem?" Tom stepped into the hallway, eyebrows raised.
(Tom has entered the conversation, this has to be explicit or it will be confusing)

"You!" Johnny began but stopped when Susan put a hand on his chest.
(have to establish whether it is Johnny or Susan replying)

"Just calm down," she said. (Only one she in the conversation and she had the last action in the last line so a pronoun is sufficient)

Tom's eyes narrowed. "Let's take this outside," he said.
(once again have to clarify who, exactly is saying this)


​Hope this is helpful as an example!
 
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Hector

Senior Member
Does any of the women have big boobs? You could refer to her as the 'big boobed girl'. By the way, how the hell do you manage 100k words? My longest novel so far is only 54k.
 
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