"Why Do Readers Keep Forgetting the Names of My Characters?"

All I have to say is “absorGarrettcy.”

Dear Milo,

My beta readers keep forgetting the names of some characters in my book. What can I do to make them stick?


Character Amnesia

Springfield, IL

Dear Character Amnesia,

It’s great that you’re investigating this situation instead of just casting it off as an issue your beta readers have. It’s one thing if one person can’t remember the name of, say, a side character, but if multiple people are struggling, that’s usually a sign that something’s wrong.

It sounds like your betas are having trouble remembering the names of the same batch of characters. This is an oddly good sign because it means that your problem is, at least, consistent. So at least we’ve already overcome the trouble of pinpointing the problem area.

But to tackle this issue, it can go in one of two directions. Let’s start off with the easier one: the problem with the names themselves. If it’s truly just an issue with the names, your betas may be struggling because some names sound/look similar to others. And I don’t just mean one character named “Elsie” and another named “Elise.” While that certainly can cause issues, there are more pitfalls than that with naming your characters.