Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Pronoun Problem

I have a pet hate. You know when you're reading a story and the author feels the need to use the characters' full names every single time they're mentioned?

John Featherington-Smith looked up at the sky. "Hmm. It looks as though a storm is on the way," mused John Featherington-Smith. "I had better close all the windows." With that, John Featherington-Smith walked home to the neighbourhood where John Featherington-Smith had lived in all his life...
Etc., etc., etc.

I don't know if the authors do that because they are particularly proud of the names they came up with, or if that's just how they talk in everyday life, but the repetition really annoys me, and being annoyed distracts me from the story. To keep from breaking the narrative flow you can just use a pronoun instead (or at the very least just the character's first name- Surely if we get to share a steamy sex scene with him we're on a first name basis by the end of the tale!). This works okay in a heterosexual story, but I found that when writing lesbian erotica (and presumably the same apples to m/m action), all the 'she did this' and 'she did that' can get confusing. How do you make it clear to the reader which 'she' you're talking about each time? I try to get around it by describing the women (it helps if they're very physically different, or at least have different coloured hair), but it's tricky. If there are any other writers of girl-on-girl out there reading this, what do you do? I'm open to suggestions.

Photo by Ignacio Leonardi


Anonymous said...

Use one first name, and not the other's. Try it.

EmilyBryan said...

Valid pet peeve. I find the repetition of names, especially used in dialogue, can get a little creepy after a while!

Evelyn Applegate said...

Anonymous commenter- I will try that, thanks. :)

Anonymous said...

I will expand, and Evelyn will probably recognize my style, but no one else will ^_^.

Julia's hands played in her lover's hair, sifting through the golden strands, letting the silken feel of it sink into her, bending to kiss it and smell its fresh scent. She ran her hands through it at last and down the girl's shoulders, cherishing the smooth skin and closing her eyes, to then open them again when her hands reached the soft curves and their nubbled peaks.