Friday, April 24, 2009

Pour Some Sugar On Me: An Oopsie With Siren Karenna Colcroft

Unfortunately, I don't have Joe Elliot and Def Leopard here kickin' it with me (like, bummer, dude), but I have an author here who knows all to well how to sweeten the heat- sans the big hair and eye-liner!

Please make welcome Karenna Colcroft- an author who is Turning Passion Into Forever. Her books may be H-O-T-T but she lets her characters taste the sweeter side of passion with a Happily Ever After. Her new release WHO CAN SEE THE WIND is out the beginning of June '09. But for all of you eager for some sugar and spice, Karenna's ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE is waiting for you at Excessica Publishing.

Karenna was nice enough to share her Oopsie Moment and offer some great advice. So sit back and enjoy! Pour it on us, Karenna!


We all know names are important. How else would we identify each other? In our writing, names not only identify our characters, but they sometimes give clues to the characters' personalities, backgrounds, and so on.

However, there is such a thing as overuse of names. Take a look at this excerpt from a YA novel I'm currently revising:

"I’m sorry,” Step said. “Blake isn’t a nutcase, and I shouldn’t have said that.But his counseling is expensive, Laura, and the insurance company isn’t happy about it.”

“I just want what’s best for Blake.”

“I want what’s best for him, too,” Step assured Mom. “When I married you, I said I’d take care of both of you. But we also have to think about what’s best for our bank account. I’ll talk to the insurance people today, but I can guarantee they aren’t going to authorize another session, and we can’t afford it.”

It was almost time for me to get up anyway, so I grabbed some clean clothes and headed for the shower. When I came out of my room, Step jumped,like he’d forgotten I was there. It was an act. I could sense that he knew I’d been listening. For some reason it seemed to please him.

Mom smiled at me. “Good morning, Blake. We didn’t wake you, did we?”

“No. I just couldn’t sleep.”

“Blake, did Perry say anything to you about adding another session?” Step took a drink of coffee.

“Yeah, but I said I thought it was a bad idea.”

I could tell Step liked the answer. “So you don’t think you need it?”

“I think I need fewer sessions, not more,” I replied. “I have more important things to do. Like homework.” Plus Perry gave me the creeps sometimes.It was like he was examining me instead of counseling me. He was one of the few people whose thoughts I actually tried to hear, but I never got much from him. Maybe he’d been working with “troubled children” so long he’d blocked himself off.

To Step, school was more important than anything else. I knew he would agree with me. “That’s a good point, Blake. Maybe I should mention that to Perry. I’d hate to see your grades suffer because of him.”

I shrugged. “Go ahead. Is it okay if I take my shower now?”

“Of course.” Mom glared at Step, and as I went into the bathroom, I heard the argument start up again.

Not wanting to hear any more about my counseling or how nuts I was, I turned on the water and concentrated on blocking my mind. I took my time in the shower. By the time I came out, Step had left for work. Mom was sitting at the table. “Blake, I hope you weren’t just trying to make Roger happy by saying you don’t need another session. I’m sure you heard us talking.”

Do you get the idea that the character's name is Blake? Um, yeah... repeatedly.

My boyfriend once read a short story I'd posted on a certain free story site. In the course of two paragraphs, I used the hero's name at least a dozen times. That's a bit excessive. When I submitted my first manuscript to an e-publisher, it was bounced back to me with a request to get rid of all the repetition of the characters' names. I re-read that manuscript and cringed; it felt like every other word was someone's name. It wasn't quite that bad, of course, but darn if I hadn't used their names about three times as often as I needed to.Fortunately, I managed to clean it up, and "Ask and You Shall Receive" was released on March 30.

I may be the only one with this problem, but based on some things I've read recently, I don't think so. So a couple tips about names:

1. Pronouns can be your friends. In a scene in which it's been made clear who the participants are, "he", "she", etc. can be used in place of their names for the most part. If there are multiple participants of the same gender, you might need to use their names a little more often, but you can still use some pronouns, or other identifications like "the tall man" or "her sister" or so on instead of using their names over and over.

2. Dialogue. This is where I get stuck, in case you couldn't tell from the above excerpt. Stop and think for a minute, though; when you're speaking to someone, how often do you actually say their name, unless it's to get their attention or for emphasis? When we're having a conversation with someone else, we rarely use their name. They know who we're talking to; so do we. If we're talking with more than one person, we might use someone's name to indicate that what we've just said is intended for that person and not the entire group, but even that's not frequent.

So choose names for your characters that resonate with you and give the reader a sense of the character. Just don't use them too often.

Karenna Colcroft's short story "Ask and You Shall Receive" is now available from Excessica Publishing,

All her life, Beth has been unable to ask for anything. Even something as simple as a can of soda is beyond her. Asking for what she wants sexually? Forget it!

But now her friend Chase has a proposition. As Beth's best friend, Chase has heard most of her sexual fantasies, and he's willing to help her fulfill them. All she has to do is ask.

Thanks, Karenna, for laying on some sweet advice on us. And THANKS to everyone who stopped by today.

If the theme of this week's post has left you craving a Blast From The Past....Click the Def Leopard Cover and get transported to a YouTube Feed for the 1987 video: POUR SOME SUGAR ON ME!

Oh Hells, Yeah! Like, Totally!

Go On, Get Down With Your Inner 80's Rocker-Chick!

Happy Friday!


Becky said...

I enjoyed reading the post. Thanks for the advice. I don't write any stories, but if I ever try this is good advice to know.

Nicole McCaffrey said...

Argh, there you go again Sarah getting another song stuck in my head, LOL.

Karenna, excellent blog and such great advice! Overuse of names has to be one of my biggest pet peeves--so much so that it even jumps out at me on television and in movies.

Congratulations on your upcoming release!

Cari Quinn said...

Great post, Sarah and Karenna! #2 especially resonates with me. Every time I catch myself overusing names in dialogue in my WIP, I cringe. Like with anything, moderation is key. ;)

Karenna Colcroft said...

Thanks, everyone :) Nicole, I do it constantly, and sometimes I don't even catch it. My boyfriend teases me about it now because of that one story he read. It's made me more careful when I edit my stuff, though! Cari, dialogue is where I have my biggest issue with repeating names too. Becky, you should try :)

Helen Hardt said...

Hi Karenna, great blog! I usually go through my manuscripts and eliminate half the references to characters' names before I submit. Sounds like I'm not alone in using them too much!


Karenna Colcroft said...

Helen, you're definitely not alone. The problem for me was that I didn't catch them before I submitted! You can bet I'm more careful now. lol

Karenna Colcroft said...

And before I get sidetracked again, I'd like to say a huge THANK YOU!!! to Sarah for letting me guest-blog here today :)

Emma Lai said...

Great advice, Karenna. This is why it's important to READ your manuscript before you send it in. As a reader, you catch things that you don't necessarily pick up on as the writer. I know it's hard because we all want to get that story out and it must be perfect because we wrote it. Right? Unfortunately, for most of us, the answer is NO.

Thanks for searching out useful tips and resources for writers, Sarah!

Sarah Simas said...

Thanks, Becky, Cari, Nicole, Helen and Emma for coming by!

And, Nicole, I've had the song in my head for two days now. LOL I figured it was time to share!

Emma, thanks!You're awesome! :o)

Cari, I try to use the phrase 'everything in moderation' but with chocolate and diet coke...*sigh* I'm a weak woman! LOL

Helen, I'm going to try your method when I start editing. :o)

Like Karenna says, Becky, you should give writing a whirl! Watch out, it's addictive! *heehee*

Thanks, Karenna for putting toegther such a great post!

Karenna Colcroft said...

Emma, it is definitely very important to read your stuff over a few times before you submit it. I don't know anyone who can write a completely clean copy the first time around.

It's also a really good idea to have a beta reader, because as the author, no matter how many times I re-read my stuff and revise and edit before I submit it, I still miss things. I wrote it and I know what was in my brain when I wrote it, so I sometimes read what I expect to be there instead of what's really there. A good beta reader, someone to just look over your story for you and let you know if anything jumps out that should be fixed, is vital, in my opinion.

Kaye Manro said...

Nice post, ladies! And some good advice for all writers.

Rebecca J Vickery said...

hi Karenna and Sarah,
Great post and thanks for the advice. Now I just have to send it to my editor who is contstantly telling me that my characters have names...use them. LOL
So I must totally be on the other end of the spectrum and use pronouns too often.
Surely there is a happy medium in there somewhere. LOL

Happy writing all,

Karenna Colcroft said...

Rebecca, there are definitely times when names are needed, but using a name three times in one paragraph, as I did in one of my stories, is a little excessive. lol. So yeah, I think there is a happy medium. And sometimes one editor might say one thing but another has a different opinion.

Debra Kayn said...

Yep, been there, done that with the names. lol

Now, I am going to find some more 80's song, and write. Nothing like head banging and typing at the same time! :-)