Saturday, March 25, 2017

Naming Your Characters

You may have five friends named Leah. Each one is distinct in your mind—the blonde, the one always laughing, the one at work and so on. But you cannot do that in a book.

Think back to school days when you studied all those King Louis in France. I bet you can scarcely keep track in your mind now of which was which, apart perhaps from the Sun King.

This is what happens to readers when character names in a book are confusing. Sure, it occurs in real life, but in a book it’s a really bad idea to have a Tom and Tim, or two Freds, or even Mr. Holden and Mr. Howden. The readers will get confused and your story will lose its impact while they’re flipping back over the pages trying to get the characters clear in their mind.

And never repeat a name in a different book, unless it is the same character reappearing. A secondary character named Julie, in two different books, when they are totally different people will confuse your readers too.

There are plenty of baby name books out there. Give every character a distinct name that reflects their personality.

Helen Woodall

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Fascinating story about a comma, and a court case

An Oxford comma changed this court case completely.

A group of dairy drivers argued that they deserved overtime pay for certain tasks they had completed. The company said they did not. An appeals court sided with the drivers, saying that the guidelines themselves were made too ambiguous by, you guessed it, a lack of an Oxford comma.

I don’t like the Oxford comma either, but I do agree that readers need to be able to understand the point of what is being written.
And kudos to the drivers for their win.

The story is here:

Read and enjoy.

The Oxford comma may not be as quite dead as has been reported.

Helen Woodall

Sunday, March 12, 2017

21 Harsh But Eye-Opening Writing Tips From Great Authors

For many authors, the hardest thing to face is a truly cruel rejection letter. Yet most of the great writers of our time have tried and failed and failed some more. For example, Vladimir Nabokov received a harsh rejection letter from Knopf upon submitting "Lolita", which would later go on to sell fifty million copies.

In this article, twenty-one famous authors give budding authors their harsh, but useful advice. My personal favorite is #21. Don’t take anyone’s writing advice too seriously. – Lev Grossman

So, authors and aspiring authors, take a big deep breath, then read:

Helen Woodall