A delightful good mornin’,
class! The summer solstice is upon us, and Ah am positively rarin’ to
celebrate. So y’all better not be misbehavin’ today or Ah am goin’ to
be forced to give you a dressin’ down in no uncertain terms. And
believe you me, when you have been called on the carpet before your own
dear Ms. Flanders, it is an experience you’ll never forget—or want to
With no further ado, let us get
right down to our business for the day. The envelope, please, missy.
And don’t be draggin’ your pretty little feet as Ah am in a mite of a
Dear Ms. Flanders,
As a new writer, I have observed
many variations in styles among the authors I admire—not to mention a
few I don’t. One thing that puzzles me greatly is how some authors have
their characters use one another’s names quite a lot, while others
rarely do so. I have to confess, it does become rather tedious and
irritating when almost every line of dialogue includes the name of the
character being spoken to. But perhaps this perception arises from my
ignorance. It occurred to me to question whether there is a rule
regarding how to handle this issue in the most professional way, and
who would know except our resident expert, Ms. Flanders?
You’ve got that right, baby
doll. Nobody on God’s green earth knows the Sacred Laws of Fiction
Etiquette like Ah do, and Ah am here to set you straight! How extremely
perspicacious of you to notice this blemish in style. But Ah ask you,
is it possible there would not be a rule for such matters as this? Shut
your mouth! If there weren’t one already, Ah would create one mahself.
This is what Ah personally call
the “Oh, Jane! Oh, Roger! Rule.” Alas, many of today’s young editors
are clueless about this issue, as testified to by the veritable crop of
violations that are litterin’ literature today. Oh, Ah am just tooo
funny! But Ah digress.
Gettin’ back to the business at
hand, it’s enough to put your own dear Ms. Flanders quite out of
patience. Think back to your own experience, sweetheart. When is the
last time you spoke the name of your friend or relative or even spouse
or child while conversin’ with them, other than to yoo-hoo at them from
a distance? Pay particular attention to the natural rhythms of dialogue
in real life, and you’ll notice that proper names are rarely spoken
aloud. Naturally Ah’m not talkin’ about those pet names such as muffin
or buttercup, which those of us in the blessed South sprinkle liberally
throughout our speech in such a charmin’ manner. That is a different
Our proper names, however, are
sacred to us, just like the name of the Almighty. Out of respect we
rarely voice them unless we are tryin’ to make an important point or
are otherwise compelled, such as when we are in the throes of passion.
But we won’t go there, darlin’. That is not a suitable discussion for
class. If you want more information concernin’ that highly interestin’
subject, please see me privately after we dismiss.
Now you may be thinkin’ that if
more than two people are involved in the conversation, it’s likely
you’ll need to identify who is speakin’ and who is bein’ spoken to. And
you’re correct. That’s when you’ll want to have your character look at
the person they’re addressin’ or lay a hand on their shoulder or some
such thing, or simply add an attribution such as “he said to,” and then
identify who is the object of the declaration. Nothin’ could be
Now that we have that matter
settled and your mind set at ease, Ah feel ever so much better and Ah
am sure you do too! Just you mind the proper fiction etiquette so I
won’t be forced to administer a sharp rap across your hiney, honey.
While Ah may enjoy the experience, Ah guarantee you’ll be less likely
to do so unless you’re into—well, that’s another subject for private
Ah see it is time for us to
adjourn and for me to head on out to the woods to properly enjoy the
arrival of the long-awaited summer solstice. Those old Druids have
nothin’ on me, sweetheart! And Ah just happen to have a decanter of my
cousin Buleah Lee’s famous cherry cordial on hand to properly enhance
the celebration. Toodle-ooo, y’all!
Showing versus telling—is there a balance?
in the world is deep POV? Should one care?