I have several blog posts around pronouns now. After reading [Book Review: Savvy Sheldon Feels Good as Hell by Taj McCoy], I feel as if I should write a new post. It may be close to a repeat, but it’s also been quite some time since I wrote those. Repeats are fine. Promise.
There are many pronouns out in the world. And you can create more readily.
And I think more people should.
It is so easy to screw up pronouns. A pronoun connects to the last noun it possibly can connect to. And everyone seems to think she and he are the only pronouns available. Do you know how hard it is to write a story where everyone uses the same pronouns? Extremely difficult (Working on Dove with all the he/him characters; ugh).
Why don’t we just create a pronoun for each character? Then there will never be confusion. When writing my nonbinary characters, it became so easy to spot their pronoun no matter what group of people they were with. I had no issue at all picking them out of the group.
If everyone uses the same pronoun? You need to use names or descriptions more. And using descriptions instead of names is pretty blasé. Titles work well. When one of my characters is a doctor, that’ll replace their name often. I use pronouns less when titles can easily make them different.
Do not just use pronouns without being wary of who is being connected to the pronoun. Just like with [Modifiers and their dangles], pronouns will connect to whatever is closest possible option. And if it’s not the option it’s supposed to be? Your option is switch out pronouns for that person or rewrite all the sentences to make sure it’s clear who you mean.
I want us to get more used to just having a special pronoun for each character. Really go all in on creating pronouns. You will never get a misplaced pronoun again.
Joanna went to the store to get her a milkshake.
-This doesn’t work. Her must refer to someone else (use their name, please). If it refers to Joanna, it should be herself.
Nick and Tim are friends. Tim always plays ball with him when they get off work.
-This is confusing. I can pull based on information that the him refers to Nick, but the him should refer to Tim based on grammar rules.
Watch your pronoun use. Use their first name more. Create different pronouns for your characters. Pronouns have little to do with gender (it’s complicated). Use titles instead.
Please. Reading is meant as pleasure. I shouldn’t need to sort through the work to figure out who you mean.
Check out my other random writing lessons: [Writer’s Stuff]
Want practice sentences for any of my lessons? Want me to explain something confusing or strange about English (How can anyone fully explain English?)? Speak up. I love helping. I love teaching.