The other day I was reading a PDF of a book an agent asked me to review. While I enjoyed the storyline and intriguing characters, I constantly and, might I add, consistently was taken out of the story by one simple problem: character names.
No, the names themselves weren't unusual or hard to pronounce. No, the names didn't remind me of someone I knew/hated/loved.
The names were ALWAYS in the dialogue!
Trying reading the example below out loud (my own made up dialogue):
"Hey Mary. Did you hear the news?" Henry asked.
"What news, Henry?" Mary asked back.
"About school. We get three days off! Isn't that great, Mary?" Henry said as he did a little jig.
"Henry! You just made my day." Mary threw her arms around him in a happy hug.
This example was seriously how the dialogue went throughout most of the book. Annoying!
Do you talk like that? I don't. Having a one-on-one conversation with someone I sure hope they know their own name and I don't need to remind them every time I talk to them.
Let's redo the dialogue:
"Did you hear the news, Mary?" Henry said.
"What news?" she asked.
"About school. We get three days off!"
"You just made my day!" Mary said as she threw her arms around him.
Notice the difference? Other than my brilliant (said in Grinch voice) writing, did the dialogue read better?
What takes you out of a story?