Our overriding job as fiction authors is to entertain our readers. They buy our books not to be impressed, awed or confused but rather to be entertained. Here are some do's and don'ts that I think we need to pay attention to.
(1) Unpronounceable Names. Some authors give characters unpronounceable names. Bad idea. Most readers subvocalize so words that are difficult to pronounce usually get skipped over. If the reader skips over a character's unpronounceable name they will find it difficult to follow the story. Calling a character d'Aczrgueith instead of Azerg is an unnecessary obstacle to the reader being able to enjoy your book.
(2) Complicated Names. In science fiction, writers sometimes think they are being clever to invent an entire naming scheme. They decide that male aliens will be named d'Aczrgueith A XXXXXX and female aliens will be named d'Aczrgueith K XXXXXX then they give you a cast of characters with names like d'Aczrgueith A Fuirnbz, d'Aczrgueith A Kertnm, and d'Aczrgueith K Szrmnof. This is another example of the "See how clever I am that I was able to think up all this stuff" syndrome. We are not writing a novel to prove to readers how clever we are.
(3) Similar Names. It's our job to make it easy for readers to keep our characters straight. If you have one potential love interest named Rachael then don't name another potential love interest named Rhonda. If you have a major character named Carlson don't have another one named Cartman. If the hero is Steve Fisher then make the hero's boss Walter Tallman and his best friend Ralph Amoroso and the villain Eric Ames. Keep both the character's first and last names very different.
(4) Odd Units of Measurement. Another aspect of the "See how clever I am" syndrome is the science fiction writer's temptation to create completely new units of measurement. "The ship was a small freighter, only 132 irals long." Does that convey any information whatsoever to the reader? No. Should we expect our readers to turn to a glossary in the back of the book to learn that an iral is equal to 2.439 meters and then get out their calculators to translate 132 irals into meters or, heaven forbid, from irals to meters to feet in order to understand our story? No.
Yes, it's likely that aliens will not use feet, meters, pounds, kilos etc. but aliens are not reading our books. People who do use feet, meters, pounds and kilos are reading our books and therefore we need to use units of measurement that are understandable to those readers.
If you had written a novel about an OSS agent working behind the German lines in WW II your book would still be in English even though real people in that situation would have been speaking German. Do the same automatic translation for your readers for aliens' units of measurement.
When I was very young I read a comic book where Donald Duck somehow ended up in a jungle in South America where he was confronted by a lost tribe of natives. The balloon above the tribal chief's head said something like, "Why have you come here?*" and at the bottom of the page was a footnote: "*We have translated all conversations from Sumapti to English for the convenience of your readers."
We need to be equally considerate for our readers.
(5) Clarity In Time And Place. If a story takes place in multiple locations and at multiple times we need to make the time and place of each incident clear to the reader. One way to do that is with a specific time and place designation.
"Chapter One – January 27, 1945, Hitler's Bunker, Berlin." "Chapter Two – March 1948, Zurich." This works but it can be inconvenient for the reader because he/she may have to flip back and forth between chapters in order to keep things straight. If possible, use comparative times: "Chapter One – Hitler's Bunker, Berlin." "Chapter Two – Two Years later, Zurich." "Chapter Three – Present Day – Washington D.C."
These may seem like mundane issues but they make a big difference in the reader's comprehension of and therefore his/her enjoyment of our work.
My website: http://www.davidgraceauthor.com
My latest book is Death Never Lies – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NLTBMSQ
I specialize in crime fiction and I've written over fifteen novels. Several of my short stories have been published in national magazines. You can check me out at:
Romance and Football
A Second Chance Story
By Theresa Hodge
Drake Peterson and Alyssa Darden met and fell in love while attending Auburn University. Circumstance broke them apart and they lived in different cities until the death of a dear friend brought them back together again in Auburn. Drake Peterson is a man who shows passion on and off the field. He had a passion for his team when he was a defensive lineman and he has a great passion for his family and friends. He’s the type of man that will overcome any and all obstacles for the woman he loves.
Here is a little peak into Drakes thoughts as he watches and reminisces on his favorite college team, from the stands. The cheers all around Drake set his blood to pumping, as he sits among the vigorous fans. He thought about how the stadium was named for Ralph “Shug” Jordan, who had the most wins as head coach of the University football team and Cliff Hare, a member of Auburn’s first football team as well as Dean of the Auburn University School of Chemistry and President of the Southern Conference. On November 19, 2005, the playing field at the stadium was named in honor of former Auburn coach Pat Dye. The stadium is now officially known as Pat Dye Field at Jordan-Hare Stadium. All of those facts ran through Drake's mind as he pulled his wife, Alyssa, closer to his side. Shouts of victory rang out loud and clear among fans, students and alumni’s alike. Their opposing team was on the losing end and that was just how the Auburn supporters wanted it.
Drake Peterson’s glory days were over as a defensive lineman for his favorite college team of all times. But that didn’t stop him from rooting them on towards victory. He expected great things from the football team this year. They have a tough schedule, but the players are up for it. He knew that if the team stayed focused, healthy and injury free, that we are in for one great season. The great coaching staff is an added bonus.
“War Eagle,” the shouts and noise was deafening around the stadium. The band began to play the song of victory. “War Eagle,” Drake and Alyssa added their own war cries as the Auburn team won another victory for the Auburn Tigers.
My name is Theresa Hodge. I am the author of a two-book series titled Ask Me Again (Second Chance). I began writing the first book to battle my depression and grief after losing my sister to breast cancer. This book was my therapy. The characters grew on me the more that I wrote about them. I feel that those characters are a part of me now.
I hope that you enjoyed this little snippet about me and two of my characters. If you want to read more about Drake and Alyssa’s journey. I urge you to get your copy of Ask Me Again book 1 today. Book 2 drops on September 30th. You can find the books on Amazon and Nayberry Publications website. Visit my author page on Amazon.
We are now giving every blogger a chance to connect with the Indie Writers Support network and create free exposures for their blog-site by linking back to us. Our new link-exchange program would allow any 'literary-based' blogger and website owner to add his or her website address onto indiewritersupport.com (to it's 5,000+ webpages), only if he/she agree to add Indie Writers Support (with the www.indiewritersupport.com hyperlink address) onto his/her website.
We thought this would be a great idea, as it could create free exposure for both websites involved, and increase readerships.
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