Problem is – and I hate to admit this – I got lost in all the kids and kids of kids. I couldn’t tell which kids belonged to which kids, let alone where everyone lives nowadays. Seemed to me, his grandkids should be adolescents, not having practically grown kids of their own. What I needed was a written family tree to look at and take notes on as he talked.
I feel that way about some books I read. There are so many characters I get totally lost. I scan back through the book, trying to remember exactly who they are and how they’re “related” to the protagonist. I read a name and I can’t remember whether Winston was the plumber or if that was Wendell. Was
I’m a big believer in limiting characters or at least introducing them slowly so the reader has time to adjust. I also believe in giving characters distinctive names – unless there’s some particular reason to do otherwise.
Basically, I want to be able to read a book without having to wonder who’s who. Otherwise, I want to be able to refer to a legend in the back of the book.
There have been books that totally lose me. If I can't differentiate the characters, I usually quit reading.
Does this happen to you? Do you keep reading? What about your own book? Are you careful to make each character a unique person, not to be confused with some other character?
Helen Ginger is an author, blogger, and the Coordinator of Story Circle Network's Editorial Services and writing coach. She teaches public speaking as well as writing and marketing workshops. You can follow Helen on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn. Helen is the author of 3 books in TSTC Publishing’s TechCareers series, Angel Sometimes, and two of her short stories can be found in the anthology, The Corner Cafe. Her next book, Dismembering the Past, is due out in 2013.