Monday, August 22, 2011


The word pronoun is taken from the old French, “pronomine.” Literally translated, it means instead of a noun. He, she, it, they, you, this, that, which, who, are pronouns. So what?
So…repeating a pronoun is like repeating any other word—dog or husband or elephant.  Pronouns are my pet peeve, as many of my authors have learned. Thankfully, they’ve also learned why, and been open to eliminating the overuse of them from their stories.
How do I write in my character’s point of view if I can’t say her or she—you ask. Don’t get me wrong, you can use the pronouns, just hopefully not overuse them. I’ll give an example or two, so show how it can be done. Yes, it’s work but worth it, I think.
Example: Brenda drew in a long, deep breath and let it out in a slow hiss. Then, the memory of the day she received the job offer came to her mind and a hint of a smile crossed her face. She’d been in a terrible mood after engaging in verbal combat with her new publisher. 5 pronouns
To eliminate pronouns, it could say: Brenda drew in a long, deep breath and let it out in a slow hiss. The memory of the job offer brought a smile that widened at the thought of the new publisher’s face, handsome with a hint of a quirkiness that hadn’t been showing today. Her smile died at the thought of the verbal combat he’d initiated. 2 pronouns
Here, we’ve eliminated a few pronouns and some telling, but notice that we’ve also developed Brenda’s character as she relates her opinion of the new boss’s quirkiness, and the fact that he’d instigated the confrontation between them.
One more example: That was the question of the day, Lana thought, since he was out of town the day she interviewed with John Richards. Just then, the door flew open. She jumped so high she swore she floated above the sofa for a split second. A man in an expensive suit strode toward her and she heard her heart thumping. His eyes washed over her and his brows raised in recognition. 11 pronouns
This could say: That was the question of the day, since he was out of town during the interview with John Richards. Just then, the door flew open. Lana jumped so high she envisioned dangling over the sofa like a wind-chime. A gorgeous man wearing an expensive suit strode across the carpet and her heart jack-hammered in reaction. His glance showed appreciation. His brows raised in recognition. 5 pronouns
In this example, we’ve done away with some telling, cut the adverb count in half, eliminated 5 pronouns, replaced a too-common image (heart thumping) with jack-hammered, and added a simile (like a wind-chime).
As I said above, getting rid of pronouns is work, but after a while becomes second nature. Your final result is tighter and more detailed.

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