Writing Advice: Winsell’s Fix-Its Pt 1

Winsell’s Fix-its: The Name Game

This month, I’ll be focusing my writing advice on little fix-its that can really take away from the quality of your novel. They can cause a five star review to become a three star review. They can drive a potential reader away, and they take away from your credibility as a writer.

Being an Indie author is already hard. We have to contend with the big bucks of marketing thrown out there by the traditional publishers. We have to be more creative with our marketing campaigns, and we spend our own money to publish our books, so we should want it to be the best it possibly can be before we put it out there for the world to see.

Wouldn’t you hate to publish your pride and joy only to read a review like this: “I couldn’t get into the story because of editing,” or “I quit reading about halfway through because of editing. They have potential, but they need to find a good editor.”

This would burst your bubble faster than the point of a needle. I know it would mine. I’m not saying this to discourage you from publishing because I’m all for more Indie authors. I just want you to put out the most polished piece of work you can. So over the next three weeks, we’re going to delve into some common pitfalls that hinder new and experienced writers.

The Name Game

I recently did this with a manuscript I’m working on. I changed the main character’s name because it was too close to another character. I would have changed the supporting character’s name, but their book is already published, so my main character had to bite the bullet.

But here’s the rub. When you change a character’s name or gender in your story, you have to make sure to implement the change throughout the entire story. Nothing confuses me quicker than reading a book that starts out with Barry as a character, but later his name appears as Larry. It immediately takes me out of the story, and I’m sitting there trying to figure out where things went wrong.

Here’s another scenario: Julie is talking to Kate in one paragraph, but the next page, Kate disappears and Lilly appears in her place. The same thing happens for the reader.

The Fix-It

You can use the fine and replace feature in Word, which is great. I use it all the time, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to read through the entire manuscript for any name errors. Go back through your story and read specifically for the character names that you changed. When you proof your paperback copy, don’t just pay attention to formatting, take out your little red pen and mark any discrepancies with characters’ names so that you can go back and fix them.

I’m not saying that your story will be published error free. I think that’s impossible, but I am saying to make it so hard for someone to find errors in your work that they get absorbed in your story and forget to look for them altogether.

Don’t be a victim of the name game!

Do you have any editing peeves that just really drive you crazy when reading a book? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section!