When I got the comments back from my beta readers on the first draft of Her Private Chef, one of them mentioned that my characters tend to use names a lot in dialogue. For example:
“That’s not fair, Sarah.” He ran a finger lightly over her collarbone. “You never even gave me a chance.”
In other words, some of my characters refer to the people they’re speaking to by name. Unfortunately, I’m a poor judge of how this “sounds” on paper because…I do the same thing. If I’m talking to someone, I inevitably use their name several times. “Now Janet,” “But Ashley, you know that…” “Wow Dan, that sounds exciting!” You get the idea. It’s much smoother than that in real life, or I think it is, anyway.
The sentence still works without the name, of course, as long as both characters have been in the scene all along:
“That’s not fair.” He ran a finger lightly over her collarbone. “You never even gave me a chance.”
The problem is, sometimes I just think it seems to flow better with a name. It seems to me that the speaker is intentionally using the name to add emphasis, to really personalize the exchange. Naturally many people disagree – saying the name breaks up the flow of the dialogue.
As I’m editing, I’m scrutinizing my usage of names in dialogue to determine whether it really does add to the exchange, or whether removing the name makes it flow better. It’s slow going, due to my own propensity to use this particular speech pattern myself.
Do your characters use names in dialogue? Have you noticed it in books you’ve read? Do you have a personal preference for when this might be appropriate, if at all?