I just realized that I accidentally named two characters Maggie. Good thing I caught it before the fiction police came after me.
Maggie McGraw will now be rechristened Maeve McGraw, which ruins the joke that only one person in the world got, but these are the sacrifices that have to be made in the name of art.
As all real writers know, no two characters in a work of fiction should share the same first name. They can’t even have similar-sounding names. If there’s a Laura in your story, there sure as hell better NOT be a Lyra. If there’s an Ed, you’d be a damn fool to include a Ted . Of course this is all opposite when it comes to twins – twins MUST have similar sounding names.
The good news is that this rule can help you determine if you’re real or not. If you realize that you don’t know any two people with the same first name and that your phone number begins with 555, you can safely assume you live in a fictional world. Depending on what fictional world you live in, you may want to escape to the real world. Things aren’t all roses here, but if you’re a character in the Road or some other horrible depressing novel you probably want out.
If you send me 200 dollars I’ll tell you the secret word that will let you jump into the real world.
“But Jeremy, if you’re real and I’m fictional how am I even reading this? And how can I get you the money?”
The internet is a confluence of the real world and the world of make believe, it’s funny how many people don’t seem to realize that. It’s pretty obvious folks. And I know how to cross over.
“But how do I know that you’re real?”
Because I’m not even in the number one roster slot of Jeremys amongst my peers. I’m Jeremy #2. I was Jeremy #3 for a long time but I managed to move up a place.
The reason for the one name limit is that when you’re writing, you’re supposed to imagine that your audience is stupid. People like it when you treat them like they’re six years old. Obviously they would be confused by multiple characters with the same name: “Wait, was it good-guy Steve or bad-guy Steve who launched the missile at France?” Clearly there’s NO way to figure it out from context.
That’s why the Two Jakes was just a horrible flop.
Along the same lines, good writing is having your characters say things they would never say for the benefit of the audience. “I’m a lawyer and I’m talking to you, a fellow lawyer, but I will now explain what a pre-trial hearing is for the sake of the audience because they’re morons.”
I don’t remember what I watched the other day but it was pretty good and then at the end, the main character literally just explained the whole plot of the show. That’s what made it go from good to great. Now that’s writing!