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Ziljon
03-23-2009, 06:01 AM
I usually find it sounds forced, but my eight-year old daughter uses her six-year old sister's name in almost every sentence:

"Ava, no, you can't do that. Ava, wait, I'm a wolf and I just lost my pups. Stop Ava, stop, you're a hunter, not a cat!"

"No, ChloŽ! That's not fair. You can't tell me to do that! Dad, ChloŽ's cheating."

"Dad, Ava's cheating." etc.

Is this just an age thing? I hardly ever use a person's name when I'm speaking to them. Why is that? What about you?

Puma
03-23-2009, 06:10 AM
I use names a lot in dialogue. I was actually surprised to find out many people don't. But that's the way people spoke when I was growing up. Now I wonder if it is also a regional thing. Puma

Kathleen42
03-23-2009, 06:20 AM
I use names sparingly and usually at the beginning of conversations/exchanges or for emphasis.

Mandy-Jane
03-23-2009, 06:21 AM
I think it may be an age thing. My five year old does the same when talking to her sister.

Jersey Chick
03-23-2009, 06:28 AM
My son (3 1/2) uses his sister's name every chance he gets - usually at the beginning and end of a sentence -

"Sammi, how was school today, Sammi?"

It's cute. My daughter never did it, though.

JJ Cooper
03-23-2009, 06:37 AM
For me, it's really a matter of balance.

I know people who use names often in conversations. I find though, we need to allow for readers who may find it 'distracting'. A character who does this may become annoying to some. Not good if it is a character we want the reader to care about.

I use names within dialogue as identifiers with a decent flow to it. When editing, if it stops you, or you pause to question the need/use of the name, maybe best to avoid.

JJ

ChaosTitan
03-23-2009, 06:46 AM
It also depends on what characters are discussing. During particularly difficult or emotional conversations, my characters tend to use first names more often. I'll edit some out if it gets clunky or too repetitive.

Ziljon
03-23-2009, 06:54 AM
But what about you? You real people? Are you like this or is it just me? I hardly ever use a person's name in actual speech. If I do, I'm usually getting all serious on them: "Nick, I asked you not to do that..." as apposed to my more usual: "Man, I can't believe you just did that!"

ChaosTitan
03-23-2009, 07:08 AM
Real people? What're those?

*kidding* :D

Actually, come to think of it, I rarely use someone's name while I'm talking to them, unless I"m trying to get them to shut up and stop rambling. Hmm....

blacbird
03-23-2009, 07:08 AM
In writing, it can get cheesy real quick. If your reader can't tell who is talking and who is being addressed via the context of the narration, you have an immediate problem that needs triage.

caw

Judg
03-23-2009, 07:12 AM
I've noticed that people tend to use the other person's name more often when they're applying pressure or even being manipulative.

Not always of course. Lovers will say the other's name fairly freely too. I guess in every case we are trying to create an emotional response and imply an intimacy, which is perhaps why it's used in manipulation. Listen to any salesman who knows your name...

Fulk
03-23-2009, 07:18 AM
Usually, the only time I address someone by their name is if I'm trying to get their attention, or if I'm angry at them. Aside from those instances, I can't think of many times I'd use a person's name when speaking to them.

Barb D
03-23-2009, 07:22 AM
I don't think I ever use people's names in conversation, unless I'm trying to get their attention or greeting them. "Hey John!"

It drives me nuts when it's overdone in dialogue.

semilargeintestine
03-23-2009, 07:30 AM
Yeah, most people I know don't use names too much in conversation. It seems forced and weird in dialogue.

Clair Dickson
03-23-2009, 07:31 AM
It can work, sparingly, and in the right situation. I started observing this a little while back. (My poor alt high school kids don't know how much I study them. ;-)

In real life, people will use it if they think their listener isn't paying attention. Also, to direct their attention. "Hey, Michelle, look at this!" And for manipulation (sublte and otherwise.) "Oh, come on James, you know you want to go with us. Shelby-- you're going right? See, James, even Shelby's going."

In writing, it should be sparse. And used for the similar effects as real life. IMNHO. But I prefer to use action after the dialogue if I need something to remind the reader who's talking.

But, using a name all the time could be a character trait. I find I do that with Hubby, only I use one of his (many) nicknames.

rugcat
03-23-2009, 08:35 AM
It's a good way to show emotion, without resorting to, "she said angrily."

"What were you thinking of?" is fine. But if the character seldom uses another's name, slipping in a name -- "Bill, what were you thinking of?" adds a little kick. In real life we do tend to use names of people we know well when we're particularly angry, puzzled, or greatly appreciative, and it works well in dialogue too.

Of course, if you use it on every page it will get old quickly. But that's true with almost everything in writing.

Mumut
03-23-2009, 09:31 AM
You might use it if your stuck for a way to 'type' a character who, otherwise, sounds like one of your other characters. In dialogue, then, one would just keep talking whereas the 'typed' one keeps using the persons name in their speach.

blacbird
03-23-2009, 10:59 AM
You might use it if your stuck for a way to 'type' a character who, otherwise, sounds like one of your other characters. In dialogue, then, one would just keep talking whereas the 'typed' one keeps using the persons name in their speach.

I can't think of any real person I know who does this. And I know some pretty unreal real persons.

caw

Willowmound
03-23-2009, 11:23 AM
Not really on topic, but I'll share anyway:

I've discovered that whenever someone starts a text message with my name, they have bad news for me.

"Willow, your cat is dead. And you have no life. Also, I can't make it to the pub."

It's so consistent, I don't have to read the things anymore. Whatever was planned, I get a text from the person opening with my name, I know the plan's off. And that possibly my cat is dead.

Samantha's_Song
03-23-2009, 12:55 PM
I'm with you on both parts of your reply.
I usually call my husband Chris, but when I'm being sarcastic or am annoyed with him I will call him Christopher and make sure that I lay it on thick.
For the second part: I have two wannabe/gonnabe lovers who use each others names as a faux flirtation every chance they get.


I've noticed that people tend to use the other person's name more often when they're applying pressure or even being manipulative.

Not always of course. Lovers will say the other's name fairly freely too. I guess in every case we are trying to create an emotional response and imply an intimacy, which is perhaps why it's used in manipulation. Listen to any salesman who knows your name...

tehuti88
03-23-2009, 06:31 PM
As others have mentioned, I've found that when my characters use names in dialogue, it's usually intended for some sort of emphasis--either to get somebody's attention, or to express sarcasm, anger, or make a point.

"Manabozho, I think we're beyond surprised, by now."

"Charmian! What's gotten into you?"

Some reasons for doing so--emotional manipulation, applying pressure, bringing bad news--have already been given, so the point has been made much better than I can make it. This applies equally in reality and in fiction for me. I just feel really weird using names or titles--even "Ma" or "Dad"--when I'm talking to people, unless I have a specific reason for doing it.

Aside from those reasons, usage of names in speech seems kind of forced to me, but it really depends on the circumstances. I would never write off somebody who uses names in speech all the time for the most trivial reasons. Some people just talk like that. But if every character is doing it all the time, yes, it really bugs me.

SPMiller
03-23-2009, 07:14 PM
It's important to remember that fictional people are in no way related to real people. Thus, the fact that real people rarely address each other by name has nothing to do with fictional people abusing that practice.

nevada
03-23-2009, 07:50 PM
It's an old sales trick. Repeat a person's name often in the spiel. There are psychological reasons for it but I can't remember what they are. In real life I never use anyone's name because I forget them. Even people I know really well. It's a horrible thing and fortunately my friends are okay with it. (horribly though my friends are all online. I remember their online name because it's in front of me, but real name? forget it. I just had a fight with one of them (no one here) and I wanted to use his real name as emphasis and I drew a blank. When I did come up with a name, I wasnt sure if it was the right one so i couldn't use it.)

So i would say, in dialogue, have someone use another person's name when they're trying to convince the other person to do something they don't want to do. It works for telemarketers and commissioned sales people.

DeleyanLee
03-23-2009, 08:04 PM
Dialogue is as much a reflection of real conversation as fiction is of real life. Just 'cause that's how people do it in real life, doesn't mean that's how we should write it. After all, clarity and a point is essential to dialogue and it sure isn't in RL conversation. LOL!

I use names in dialogue as it suits the character speaking, the situation involved and the need for clarity/flow of what's being said. Seems to work, since no one's every complained about how I do it. *shrug*

blacbird
03-23-2009, 09:22 PM
In my view, the test of whether or not to use a name in direct address in dialogue would be: Does the dialogue work without it? Take out the reference and see.

Here's where I get counterintuitive. I don't mean to suggest that you put in name references in order to clarify who is speaking and who is being spoken to. Just the opposite, in fact. If that's the reason you're doing it, it veers into the territory of being an As-you-know, Bob device. Your dialogue and whatever surrounding narration you have should make it clear, always, who is speaking and who is being addressed, without resorting to such flimflammery. If it does, then, okay, there are moments where tossing in a name reference would be appropriate. If it doesn't, then you need to do some other work to make sure that it does.

caw

nevada
03-23-2009, 10:21 PM
I'm of the opinion that it's better to throw in a dialogue tag with a name to keep who's saying what clear rather than throwing a name into the conversation simply because we use people's names so very rarely in dialogue. Unless we're trying to convince them to see it our way. Or we're really pissed off at them. A simple "bob said" is i think less visible than "bob, please hand me the whatchamcallit"

NeuroFizz
03-23-2009, 10:51 PM
One of the best ways to find out if names are overused in dialogue is to read the passage out loud, better yet, read it out loud with other people listening. Clunky dialogue usually jumps out in that circumstance.

Names can be helpful when a scene includes more than two speaking characters, but even then, I would suggest they be used sparingly. If it's a one-on-one conversation, names usually don't come into play in my writing for the simple reason it sounds stupid when (or at least the way) I do it.