Outtakes 240


By Cait Collins


Your new novel is really coming along. You love your characters and they are beginning to gel. And then you realize you have four characters whose names begin with an “S”, three with names beginning with “C”, and two guys with names beginning with a “T”. Why do we get fixated on certain letters of the alphabet? Is it lazy or just happenstance? The more I think about it, the less I understand the quirk and the less I think it matters.

One of the first lessons I was taught in my creative writing classes was to avoid naming multiple characters using a single letter of the alphabet. While I grasp the concept, execution is not as easy. I’ve noticed that even multi-published authors follow the pattern and it works. So why stress over it? This is especially important when you’re one third of the way through the story and your deadline is looming. .By this time you are committed to the characters. You know them inside and out. And if you change the name to conform to a rule, do you risk losing the essence of the person?

Here’s my take on the situation. While I don’t recommend having multiple characters whose names begin with the same letter, you can still make it work. The trick is to make each character so memorable the reader overlooks the similarity in the names. The only time it matters is when you can’t tell Daffy, Donald, and Daisy apart.

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