The little details

I’m very good at being critical – and that’s not a self-compliment, that’s a self-criticism. Writing is so important to me and has been part of my life for so long – well, as long as I have been able to write I guess, that it’s not surprising that I have opinions on it. I’ve not only practised writing, I’ve taught creative writing, I’ve studied others’ writing, read books about it – and read thousands of factual and fictional volumes!

I’m still editing the book I started writing too many years ago; it’s finished but it needs work. I was plodding through it last night, cutting out dross, checking there weren’t omissions or repetitions, and suddenly out of nowhere I realised I’d made a classic mistake. When I used to teach creative writing and lead writing groups, it was something I was forever reminding people about, the importance of names of characters. I really research names and naming, first names as well as surnames. Imagine my annoyance when as I worked on my book last night I realised I’d chosen names which could be confusing or muddling. Which person was I writing about? How would any reader be sure who was in a particular scene or conversation?

I’m working on the latest in my Radwinter series, and one of the main characters who has appeared to a greater or lesser extent in most of them, is called David Hollis. He’s in this book too, he and his family play quite a major part , so why have I called a completely different character David as well? This other character David Monnet, is known as Davey, but even so, this could lead to confusion as the two characters know each other and are in the same scenes. Davey has a cousin called Danny Monnet. What??? Davey and Danny? They are introduced at the same time, in the same place, and appear in other locations too.

Thank goodness we have the technology – supposing I had to go through my handwritten manuscript, or my type-written one? Fortunately with careful use of find/replace, and much checking and double checking, one is now called Richard, shortened to Richie, and the other is Martin. I guess I had become complacent and careless, but at least it’s now sorted. When I start ‘the big read through’ before sending it off to my dear editing friend, I will be paying special attention to the little details as well as the major themes!

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