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Writing Books/second referencing when writing a book


Hello, I am currently editing a sports non-fiction book. If an individual is identified by first and last name in Chapter 1, and then not mentioned again until, say, Chapter 20, does the writer need to refer to that person by first AND last name in Chapter 20?  Is there an "expiration time" on last-name referencing? Or may the individual, once fully introduced to the reader, be referenced by last name for the remainder of the book no matter when he/she is mentioned again?

Thank you!

Hello Tami:

I am sorry to be late with this, but I didn't get a notification.

You have asked an interesting question. I am very fond of Ruth Rendell's mystery books, but in some there are so many characters, I lose track of them, especially if they are not made particularly memorable. (admittedly my memory is not what it was).

So, the more important the character is, the more often you will "feature" them: their actions, dialogue, and thoughts. If the character is fully developed, their name needn't be mentioned on every page, but it should be mentioned occasionally. Personally, if I read a name in Chapter One and didn't meet the character again until Chapter 20, I would certainly have forgotten them, and would need not only their first and last name, but some identifying characteristic. In the latest of Rendell's books I have read, there is a woman whose legs are so fat they are like pillars; her ankles bulge over her shoes, and she can barely walk. I'll remember that lady for a long time!

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high scores over 1350 questions.

And thank you for writing!

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Susan Rand


I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.


I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

BA degree in Written Communication

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