Friday, October 22, 2021

Writing: character names

As authors, we're encouraged to either use a fresh set of characters in our next story, or if we insist in using the same names in our next book, using copious notes to avoid tripping ourselves up along the way.

Ross Thomas gives a police chief an excellent name (Oscar Ploughman) but then sets a man with the same name in the same character in a different book with a totally different background. I'm willing to forgive these missteps, mainly because of the writing that Thomas does, but they show how he ignores the "rules" that authors are given. It shows me that rules aren't a guarantee of success in a book--good writing overcomes slavishly following the rules. Every time.

I know of one best-selling author who admits to hating research, and his lack of medical knowledge (or even that gleaned from a simple Internet search) shows it. Yet I forgive him because his books are so good. Have you found errors and ignoring rules in the works of some authors?  And are you willing to give those breaches because the writing is so good?

3 comments:

Priscilla Bettis said...

I recently finished a debut Big 4 novel in which police procedure was muddy, bad, and just plain wrong. But the book isn't about a crime or the police. The book is a fabulous coming-of-age story with werewolf-like beasts, so I ignored the missed research.

Richard Mabry said...

My philosophy is that if a reader can check up on us, some of them will. However, if it's a made-up thing anyway, the writer is always right.

Patricia Bradley said...

If the writing is good I can almost overlook anything. But even then, when an author gets something wrong that a basic search could have fixed, I lose confidence in the author. And it might make me try another author in the same genre the next time...