After years of working in publishing I have decided that it’s a common mistake all writers make. Alliterative characters, character names that all start with the same letter. I don’t think anyone does it on purpose, but instead I think authors get in a rhythm and don’t even realize what they’re doing. Remember, while these characters might seem very distinct to you they aren’t always distinct to your readers, so be very careful that the names don’t sound too close or can too easily confuse.
In other words, while Sara, Samantha, Sasha, and Sally might make really cute names for sisters, imagine how confusing they would be if they were all in the same book. Heck, even as sisters I can imagine the new boyfriend saying, “So which one is Sally?” In other words, it can be difficult for us to distinguish people who have such similar names. However, by giving very distinct names we’ve instantly created very distinct people. Would Sara, Doris, Francine, and Clara stand out more?
In addition to alliterative names, be very careful of names that are too similar to each other. For example, would it confuse you to have both Carl and Cal or Al and Arnold? It might sound easy in the blog, but imagine trying to distinguish them in a book?
While I think it’s perfectly acceptable to have a few characters with alliterative names, be careful that it’s not running to three or four or more. Remember, names are one of your strongest character traits, just ask anyone who grew up in the ’80s about the name Heather, or what does Adolf or now Barack represent to you?