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  1. alice
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    alice New Member

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    pronoun usage

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by alice, Sep 22, 2009.

    While writing (both fiction and essays) i often end up in a bit of a tizz over pronouns. If i use them too much the whole passage becomes confusing over to whom i am referring. But if i don't use them enough the passage sounds repetative. Sometimes i find myself in situations where using the pronoun is confusing but using the noun is repetative. Are there any ways round this anyone can suggest?
     
  2. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    I wish you would have given an example of a confusing paragraph. ESPECIALLY since it might not be confusing to your readers. (I assume that you are not confusing yourself, but just assuming that it would be confusing to the reader)

    It all depends on how you write the scene, when you use names, descriptions, and pronouns.
     
  3. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sometimes it's easier to just rewrite the sentence in a way that provides more clarity.
     
  4. Mister Micawber
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    Mister Micawber Member

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    There are also sometimes third word choices, of course: Sam, the doctor, he, John's brother, the fellow traveller. Have you exhausted those as well?
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You probably don't need sentence by sentence tricks. More likely, you are narrating with tunnel vision, focusing too directly on te character istead of what he or she is experiencing.

    Read books written with a similar point of view as you are planning to do, and pay attention to how few of the sentences actually use the character as a subject or object, either as a name or as a pronoun.

    Don't stare directly at your character all the time. Instead, look through his eyes, hear through his ears, etc.
     
  6. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Often, if the pronoun is confusing that's because the closest preceding (logical) antecedent is the wrong one.

    e.g., Joanne told Betty she couldn't call home. Here, the closest (immediately) preceding noun is Betty, so, this suggests that Joanne was telling Betty that Betty could not call home. But maybe "she" is meant to refer to Joanne, instead. If so, a rewording is necessary. Something along the lines of this, e.g.: Joanne couldn't call home, and she said so to Betty.

    I usually look through pretty carefully to see what nouns my pronouns would most logically reflect and change stuff accordingly, if that suggests the wrong thing.

    Sometimes, though, it won't create any particular issue. Especially if you're using some kind of parallel sentences. Something like this:

    Alice was tired of her life. She was tired of the stress. She was tired of Diane. And she was especially tired of the pretense in their relationship! [Here, the closest immediately preceding reference for "she" is "Diane." But because of the parallelling to emphasize "her" tiredness, there is no confusion, because the repetition is meant to emphasize something about Alice, instead.]
     

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