One of the regular readers of this blog told me I ought to post more about writing. So I'm going to try to do that, but I make no promises. Like puppies and toddlers, I'm easily distracted.
But I did encounter something while reading a short story the other day that bothered me, so I thought I'd mention it. Two characters were having a conversation, and every time they said something, they used the other character's name. This is not the way people talk in real life. Now, I realize that dialogue in fiction can't be just a transcription, with all the awkward pauses and "uh"s and "you know"s. You have to clean it up some. But you want what your characters are saying to ring true, and to me, the constant use of the characters' names doesn't. When you're talking to another person, you don't call them by name unless you're trying to get their attention or emphasize a point. For that reason, I don't think you can eliminate the names entirely. But you can sure cut down on them and make your dialogue sound more natural.
I know this because I'm prone to doing the same thing, and so that's something I look for when I'm editing my manuscripts.
In other writing news, an editor called today and asked me to do a short story for an anthology. I said yes, of course, even though in this case, the story won't have my name on it. But I'm excited about it anyway, for two reasons: 1) it's a themed anthology and I like the theme, and 2) I'm always glad for the chance to write a short story. They make really nice breaks between novels.
By the way, for those of you who are interested, the title of this post comes from a great song written by Steve Goodman and sung by David Allan Coe.