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and Comedy Central.
It's probably something obvious, and it's little, but something I hadn't noticed before.
Sometimes it's difficult to decide which pronouns to use. I'm specifically referring to a close 3rd POV narrator in a scene with another character of the same gender. When do you use "he" and "she" (or "it", depending on your genre of choice)?
In this latest draft of Fighting Fate, I followed my linguistics training, adhering to supposed rules of pragmatics to dictate when I used "he/him/his" or "she/her/her" instead of proper names.
Roger took several steps toward her. Marcus tried to followed, but Roger’s hyper-awareness picked up on it right away. He paused and glanced over his shoulder at Marcus. Even if for a second, it made Marcus stop.
Here's the breakdown. In the second sentence, I used "Marcus" because, according to pragmatics, "He" should refer to Roger as the subject of the previous sentence. After "but" I used "Roger" again, because "he" would refer to Marcus. In the third sentence, "He" is Roger, being the most recent available subject to refer to. Then we get "Marcus" again, BUT it's in a prepositional phrase, so the last sentence repeats "Marcus" because the most recent SUBJECT to refer to is "Roger".
I don't think this is wrong per se, but it's clunky. Do you feel the clunky? I felt the clunkiness even while writing it, though wasn't sure how to fix it.
I sent it off to a crit partner of mine, and this is how it came back (some suggestions hers, others I adapted based on what I'd learned from several of her line-edits). Because it's a little out of context, please note that the close 3rd POV narrator is attached to Marcus in this scene.
Roger took several steps toward her. He tried to followed. Roger paused and glanced over his shoulder, his hyper-awareness tipping him off. Even if for a second, it made Marcus stop.
But is it clear?
So the dilemma continues. I've rewritten it again, because another crit buddy was confused (and I can't say I blame her). I've changed the second "he" back to "Marcus" because pragmatically the reader is going to assume "he" to be "Roger" otherwise. Right? Or not?
So what's most important? Ditching the clunky or maintaining it for the sake of clarity? How do you deal with a close 3rd POV narrator and multiple people of the same gender in one scene? How do you use pronouns? Any advice to the poor, recovering linguist that is moi?