MISDEMEANOR: Addressing Characters by Name
In real world conversations, we almost never declare whom it is we’re talking to. So unless a character in your story is searching for someone, shouting at someone, calling on someone in class, addressing only one person in a group, or being introduced to someone, avoid having your characters address each other by name. And above all, avoid any temptation to add full-name dialogue to your love story, as in “I think I love you, Edgar Cuddlebuns.” (I’m talking to you, Romance Writers!)
Maybe it’s a regional thing? Cultural? I grew up hearing and using names in conversation quite often – and still do. It seems foreign to me not to. I just don’t understand the hangup in not using names (it’s apparently a thing you’re not supposed to do in novel writing, as well).
I don’t agree either. I often address people by name. It was the way I was brought up. I’ve heard this tip from others, but it depends on your writing style and what you are used to. I would be insulted if during a conversation with someone, they never used my name.
Michael, I’m not sure I agree with you here. My lovely wife frequently complains that I only address her by name when I’m displeased with her – which isn’t true, but does give us an important clue. We often use people’s names in dialogue (in scripts and in real life) to indicate a change in subtext. For example, addressing someone by their given name, when we’d previously addressed them by their family name, indicates a move (or the desire to move) from a formal to an informal relationship (and vice versa). Calling someone by a diminutive or pet name reminds a person of the intimacy between them, and can indicate an attempt to persuade them to do something they wouldn’t otherwise do. And of course calling someone by their given name proceeded by the word ‘Mistress…’ speaks volumes.
Thanks for your comment. Of course, there are exceptions to almost any rule or piece of advice I can offer, and you point out some legitimate uses for characters addressing others by name. But my argument is with the word often. I find it rare in real life, and in well written screenplays, that people use each other’s names when having ordinary conversations. This is what I recommend avoiding.