Gabby stood on her tiptoes for a kiss. Charlie slid his hands down to her ass, cupping her hard against him. Gabby’s heart beat faster. This was it. They were going to DO it. Charlie rocked his hips into hers, and Gabby gave a loud meow of excitement.
See anything wrong with this passage? Besides the fact that Gabby meowed, which is just damned odd, we’ve just read 5 instances of proper names. This is today’s topic of EDIT ME.
When I was a newbie writer, I used proper names too much. Most of us are guilty. This is also something I see a lot in editing both experienced and new writers.
Here’s a good rule for using names:
If there are 2 characters of opposite sex in the scene, HE and SHE work fine. Also, if you’re in deep POV, using a name might be jarring, because rarely does a person think of herself as GABBY while getting hot and bothered.
Let’s rewrite it.
Gabby stood on her tiptoes for a kiss. Charlie slid his hands down to her ass, cupping her hard against him. Her heart beat faster. This was it. They were going to DO it. He rocked his hips into hers, and she gave a loud meow of excitement.
*sigh* Well, she’s still meowing, but it sounds much more readable, yes?
I always urge writers to use pronouns where possible. But they don’t always work. For instance, if you have 3 characters in a scene. Or you’re writing a same-sex love scene. Too many HEs and SHEs get confusing. In these cases, keep the pronoun nearest to the name you last used. For instance:
Gabby stood on her tiptoes. Bella wrapped an arm around Charlie from behind, HER heart beating too fast. Gabby kissed Charlie, making a Bella, Charlie, and Gabby sandwich.
1. there’s no meowing
2. HER was closest to Bella, so the arm belongs to Bella.
While self-editing, look at your names closely. Is it confusing? Do you know whose arm that belongs to? Would a proper name work better or a pronoun?