Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wendy Gager Joins Us Today!

Thank  you so much Alice (and the other names your write under) for letting me guest blog today. I have a little fun post. Today is the last stop and I’m just a little bit slap happy to have it over. I hope you will appreciate the humor I’ve attempted. 

Mary will never appear in my Mitch Malone Mystery Series, neither will a Mark or Mike. As you can see from my crime reporter sleuth’s name, Mitch Malone, I’m a big fan of alliteration. That being said I must illiterate in moderation. Too many mentions of many characters sharing a beginning moniker, whether manic or merry can give readers bad memories. Okay I will stop with all the M-words, just trying to make a point.
I love alliteration but authors must take care with multiple people’s names starting with the same letter. I have given up reading one best-selling series because two of the main supporting characters have very similar names. I can’t keep them straight and it’s pivotal to the story. Experts say when using names in your books for characters you have to avoid duplicating first letters at all costs. Your reader will get confused between who is who. Research shows readers read in groups and phrases, not individual words. Have you ever taken the test that takes all the vowels left out and just leaves consonants and you can still figure out what it says. Same applies to writing. Too many names that are similar will make your reader frustrated and maybe not even finish the book. You could have the best story in the world but if readers can’t keep the characters straight, it won’t matter. So sorry Mike and Mark, Mitch Malone must remain the main man. (I couldn’t help myself!)
What do you think of too many Ms? Do you have a hard time keeping characters straight? Weigh in.

“A Case of Hometown Blues” Synopsis
When Pulitzer-winning reporter Mitch Malone's editor presses him for a favor, Malone breaks his vow to never return to his hometown. It seemed simple enough--lead a seminar for Flatville, MI's newspaper, keep a low profile and get back to the city post haste. But memories of his parents' death swarm him, and, to avoid solitude, he stops for a beer. In the crowded bar, Mitch is dismayed to see many of his former classmates--including the still-lovely Homecoming Queen, Trudy. Once the object of his teenage crush, Trudy joins Mitch. He quickly realizes she is upset and inebriated. Always the gentleman, Mitch sees her safely home, and returns to his B&B, still trying to shake memories of his parents' sad demise. The next day, he is stunned to learn Trudy was murdered and he is the prime suspect. The locals treat the murder charge as a slam dunk, and Mitch realizes he must track down the real killer to keep his butt out of jail. As he investigates, facts he thought he knew about his family unravel, and danger ratchets up. Can Mitch discover the truth that will allow his parents to rest in peace, or will he be resting with them?
Author Bio
W.S. Gager has lived in Michigan for most of her life except when she was interviewing race car drivers or professional woman's golfers. She enjoyed the fast-paced life of a newspaper reporter until deciding to settle down and realized babies didn't adapt well to running down story details on deadline. Since then she honed her skills on other forms of writing before deciding to do what she always wanted with her life and that was to write mystery novels. Her main character is Mitch Malone who is an edgy crime-beat reporter always on the hunt for the next Pulitzer and won't let anyone stop him, supposedly.
"A Case of Hometown Blues" by Jackson author W.S. Gager (Oak Tree Press, $14.95) is the third in her series about Mitch Malone, who was twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize Investigative Journalism Award. This oversized paperback is set in the small fictional town of Flatville, Mich., where Malone grew up. He's returned to give a seminar on investigative journalist techniques.The seminar is the same weekend as Malone's high school reunion, but he really doesn't want to participate. A classmate's body is found and Malone becomes the prime suspect.While Gager's highly entertaining tale wraps up a little too neatly, it's still solid escapism by a promising new talent.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime novels and noir thrillers since 1987. 


WS Gager said...

Alice: I'm thrilled to end the tour on your site. Thanks so much for letting me ramble about names. It's one of my pet peeves.
W.S. Gager on Writing

Mike Orenduff said...

Funny post, Wendy. I've often been praised for my character names which are made up, in fact, by my wife. I have also been criticized for using too much alliteration, not in names, just in phrases. My wife doesn't write the phrases, so I can't blame her. Like you, I think alliteration is nice, but we have to be careful not to use it too often.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I agree, Wendy, about naming your characters. In my other series I have two detective, Milligan and Marshall. I did that before I knew better and now I'm stuck.

Great post.

Alice Duncan said...

So glad you're here, Wendy! I've come to love Mitch over the course of this blog tour :-)

J.Q. Rose said...

Mmmmmm...good article...!! I agree. Using too many similar names confuses the reader. I got a giggle out of this article. I enjoy your storie about the main man, Mitch Malone!!

M.M. Gornell said...

Wendy, I love alliteration--can't give it up. Alliteration Addiction is what I have. Great post!


marianne said...

You know, WS, you are so right. No matter the genre, it can get downright vexing to keep track of characters with similar names. I also think a similar problem exists when even the most minor characters are given names. Sometimes I think it is just better to say "The woman with the mole at the end of her nose."

Jackie King said...

Good post, Wendy. And I agree, characters who names start with the same letter or have the same sound can make it hard for the reader to keep the players straight. And getting the right name can be hard. Right now I have a character that I've renamed three times, and still don't feel comfortable with my decision. I'm hoping that exactly right name will come to me before I'm ready to send to publisher.

Tess Grant said...

I have a hard time with this. I tend to give characters names that start with the same letter without even realizing until rewrites, and by then I'm so stuck on the name, I have a hard time changing it. (I'm also partial to one-syllable names.) Right now, I'm looking for a name for a character and have rejected at least 10 choices because they're too close to others or start with the same letter. Back to the drawing board.

Alice Duncan said...

Names can be difficult. I find myself using names like Henry and Harold in my historical novels because they just pop into my enfeebled brain. Funny thing, though. My main characters' names just sort of appear the same time they do. Go figure.

Rita Wray said...

I agree, names that are similar are very annoying.

john M. Daniel said...

Good advice about names, Wendy. As for alliteration, I'm all for it if you keep it under control. Otherwise you end sounding like Bing Crosby selling encyclopedias.

WS Gager said...

Holy Toledo. You turn your back and there is a slew of comments. Thank you for stopping by.

Mike: I love Hubie and Susanne's name. No problems there.

Marilyn: Never knew you had the M & Ms in a book.

Alice: Thanks for your kind words. I bought your book yesterday. It is even harder to find historically correct names. Yikes!

JQ: So glad you are a Mitch fan!

Madeline: It is my vice. I'm glad we share it.

Marianne: Great point about the minor character names. Will have to work on that.

Jackie: I can't help you with names other than to suggest a baby book of names. Works for me.

Tess: Maybe the man formerly known as Stu? LOL I feel your pain!

Ingeborg: Thanks for stopping by and agreeing with me. :)

John: What a description: "Bing Crosby selling encyclopedias." Great comment.

Marianne, Tess, Ingeborg, and JQ: You are all entered to win a free book. Thanks for stopping by!
W.S. Gager on Writing

Anne K Albert said...

Great post, Wendy. Like you, I've stopped reading a well known author for the same reason. I couldn't tell who was who.

I've also learned I would do the same! I have certain names I just LOVE and would use them again and again if I could.

To prevent this, I make a list from A-Z and make note of every character in the story. I select first and last names based on the alphabet, and rarely allow two to begin with the same letter. I also count syllables, and vary length of names. It's a bit of work, but it should make things easy for the reader.

Alice Duncan said...

Thanks to the Internet, you can look up which names were popular in certain years, Wendy. Takes a lot of stress out of the business. Funny. I love to think the old days were better -- but they weren't. No antibiotics and no Google. No good :-)

WS Gager said...

Anne: Great idea about creating a list. There are names I would use over and over too! (They start with M) LOL

Alice: What would we do without the internet!


Alice Duncan said...

I'd be lost, Wendy. Thanks for buying my book!

Sheila Deeth said...

I end up worried when my characters have interesting names--did I pluck them from thin air, or did I read them somewhere else? Do they belong to someone else? But then they insist "It's my name and I'm keeping it."

EileenHamer said...

I've had trouble keeping characters straight when their names are too similar too. I try to make the names fit my characters--serious names for serious characters, etc.