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Thread: "He" problems

  1. #1
    Average Joe 21stcenturygent's Avatar
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    Question "He" problems

    I figured this should be my first official post and it seemed like something reasonable to ask.

    So I am writing this manuscript that focuses around a single man and I seem for some reason to be using "he" an awful lot since I am doing a type of writing that I am not currently used to. It's a great story in my eyes that deserves to be written but should be written fully and correctly but I seem to be having an awful lot of "hes" and "Alexs" in my writing that is sort of ruining the flow. Now I figure it is an easy correction when I go through it after the first draft but I want to steer away from this point on. I will copy and paste a unedited paragraph from the book that I randomly chose as I scrolled through it. I will highlight the Hes and the Alexs.

    Alex grabbed his 1911, which he brought in from the SUV yesterday in case the need arose and he would have to shoot his way out of a situation. He went ahead and slipped the handgun in the lower middle of his back and tightened the draw strings of his pajama bottoms to hold it tight in place. With weapon easily accessible he opened the door to greet them.
    So in this one paragraph I mention Alex's name once, to establish the paragraph's center point, pretty sure that isn't what it is called but it fits the bill. "He" is mentioned four times and that is only within this one paragraph. I have never ran into this problem before but it is just that, a problem.

    Any help please?
    Last edited by 21stcenturygent; 02-05-2013 at 11:22 AM.
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  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 21stcenturygent View Post
    I figured this should be my first official post and it seemed like something reasonable to ask.

    So I am writing this manuscript that focuses around a single man and I seem for some reason to be using "he" an awful lot since I am doing a type of writing that I am not currently used to. It's a great story in my eyes that deserves to be written but should be written fully and correctly but I seem to be having an awful lot of "hes" and "Alexs" in my writing that is sort of ruining the flow. Now I figure it is an easy correction when I go through it after the first draft but I want to steer away from this point on. I will give you a random example that does not come from the manuscript itself. I will copy and paste a unedited paragraph from the book that I randomly chose as I scrolled through it. I will highlight the Hes and the Alexs.



    So in this one paragraph I mention Alex's name once, to establish the paragraph's center point, pretty sure that isn't what it is called but it fits the bill. "He" is mentioned four times and that is only within this one paragraph. I have never ran into this problem before but it is just that, a problem.

    Any help please?
    I don't understand the bolded, it seems to be contradictory.

    There are several problems with the excerpt, but if it's from your own work I think it probably falls under the 50-posts guideline, so I'm reluctant to comment without a mod's ok.

  3. #3
    Average Joe 21stcenturygent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cornflake View Post
    I don't understand the bolded, it seems to be contradictory.

    There are several problems with the excerpt, but if it's from your own work I think it probably falls under the 50-posts guideline, so I'm reluctant to comment without a mod's ok.
    Please tell me, so I can prevent further mistakes. I am obviously new to the forum but considering it is just a paragraph I would not think it would not be considered anything bad. In fact it would help me a great deal.

    EDIT: yeah I see the contradiction because I wasn't going to put my own excerpt on but decided I would since I couldn't replicate it any other way. I will go ahead and make corrections
    Last edited by 21stcenturygent; 02-05-2013 at 11:22 AM.
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  4. #4
    That hairy-handed gent
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    Alex
    grabbed his 1911, which he brought in from the SUV yesterday in case the need arose and he would have to shoot his way out of a situation. He went ahead and slipped the handgun in the lower middle of his back and tightened the draw strings of his pajama bottoms to hold it tight in place. With weapon easily accessible he opened the door to greet them
    Alex grabbed his 1911, brought in from the SUV yesterday in case the need arose to shoot his way out of a situation. He slipped the handgun in the lower middle of his back, tightened the draw strings of his pajama bottoms to hold it tight, then opened the door to greet them

    That's a quick pass to get rid of excessive "he", but this paragraph has bigger problems. First, I don't really think he put the gun "in the lower middle of his back". That would smart. More important is the issue of choreography of trivial action. Way too much of it. Let's examine what he did:

    Someone is at the door (obvious from context). Alex picks up his gun, conceals it (hard to do in pajamas, at least the kinds of pajamas I'm familiar with, but . . .), and goes to the door. You don't need to tell the reader that he picks up the gun "in case the need arose and he would have to shoot his way out of a situation."

    That kind of thing is easily implied and assumed by any interested reader. Why else does he pick up the gun?

    In short, your grammatical concerns arise because you're just trying to do way too much description. This is an action/suspense scene, obviously. Nobody wants to read this kind of trivial detailed description.

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  5. #5
    My name is PJ. P-Jay's Avatar
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    Alex grabbed the 1911 he brought in from the SUV.

    In my opinion... Focus on making your sentences more concise.
    There are a lot of unnecessary words thrown in.

    Anyways, I think I have an idea of what you're asking about. Here are a couple quick tricks with a few random sentences.

    Alex left the house. He got into his Dad's SUV. He wasn't sure where to go, so he just pulled into the parking lot. He misses his mom.

    Could be written as

    Alex left the house and got into his Dad's SUV. Not quite sure where to go, he pulls into the nearest parking lot. The thought of his mom rattles inside his head.

    Obviously those examples are exaggerated... But you get the picture.

  6. #6
    Average Joe 21stcenturygent's Avatar
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    Thank you guys that was EXTREMELY helpful for me. I will save this page for when I go back through the first four chapters (the amount I have so far completed) and will apply it from now on to keep it easy flowing and without too much fluff. Luckily it's the exposition so I can catch myself doing bad habits now before it becomes critical later on.
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  7. #7
    Angel Wing Fetish VoireyLinger's Avatar
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    I'm going to agree with the advice that you're overwriting.

    Alex grabbed his 1911, which he brought in from the SUV yesterday in case the need arose and he would have to shoot his way out of a situation. He went ahead and slipped the handgun in the lower middle of his back and tightened the draw strings of his pajama bottoms to hold it tight in place. With weapon easily accessible he opened the door to greet them.

    To me, this would be:

    Alex grabbed his gun and stuck it in the back of his waistband before opening the door.

    Define which details are important. The rest is simply extra words. when you have what you need, vary your sentence structure and the pronouns will blend in. They tend to stick out when you have a repetitive rhythm.

  8. #8
    Girl Detective AW Moderator Stacia Kane's Avatar
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    You're not deep enough in POV; you're telling, not showing.
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  9. #9
    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stacia Kane View Post
    You're not deep enough in POV; you're telling, not showing.
    Agreed.

    And, 21stcenturygent, you are also over-explaining.
    Everything yields to treatment.

  10. #10
    Tell it like it Is Susan Littlefield's Avatar
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    21stcentuerygent.

    Is this an unedited paragraph from something you wrote? You are telling not showing. A few others have given examples of how to fix that.

    Also, when you get 50 posts you can take your writing down to Share Your Work forums for critique. Password is Vista.
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  11. #11
    writer, rider, reader...ex-pat! BethS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 21stcenturygent View Post
    So I am writing this manuscript that focuses around a single man and I seem for some reason to be using "he" an awful lot
    It's not a problem, at least in your example. Pronouns tend to be fairly invisible, and they're far better than constantly using the character's name. Just keep an eye on how many sentences in a row start with "he." Try not to go past three, because at that point it begins to set up a noticeable pattern.

  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW ave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BethS View Post
    It's not a problem, at least in your example. Pronouns tend to be fairly invisible, and they're far better than constantly using the character's name. Just keep an eye on how many sentences in a row start with "he." Try not to go past three, because at that point it begins to set up a noticeable pattern.
    Words of wisdom ^^

    You also tend to get more pronouns with solid blocks of action. You can break it up with dialogue, thoughts and characterisation. Silly example (Sorry... It's late):

    Alex tucked his 1911 into the back of his Pyjama pants like one of them gangbangers from the west end. These pricks must try something and they'll get what's coming.
    The first step for the door had the barrel slide into his crack; something that would never happen to that fifty cents, or twopack or twoply or whatever the kids were listening to. He readjusted the gun, keeping it in place with legs spread and ass jammed out like a rabbit in season, and reached for the door handle. "That's right muther effers, The playboy-bunny's coming for you."

  13. #13
    Average Joe 21stcenturygent's Avatar
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    Yeah after I looked through the random pages of the last four chapters it is apparent that I am assuming the reader does not get the jest and I am going about it in a "That flower is red and that tree is blue" as if I was teaching a child math or something. I am glad you guys caught it before I continued on that way throughout my writing. I mean it was really irritating me on how many times "he" popped up. I will have to completely edit the first four chapters and possibly make it to 2 or 3.

    Once again thank you everybody for pointing that out for me before I became too frustrated.
    Hard at work

  14. #14
    If the Rule is Broken Break it. Knigel's Avatar
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    I usually try to make something else the subject and then make it more descriptive.

    "Alex grabbed his 1911, which he brought in from the SUV yesterday in case the need arose and he would have to shoot his way out of a situation. He went ahead and slipped the handgun in the lower middle of his back and tightened the draw strings of his pajama bottoms to hold it tight in place. With weapon easily accessible he opened the door to greet them."

    The 1911 brought in from the SUV yesterday in case of an emergency was now in hand.

    Or

    Luckily his hand now wrapped around the 1911 brought in from the SUV yesterday in case of an emergency was now in hand.


    The handgun slipped nicely in the lower middle back of the lucky pajama bottoms.

    They would be greeted by the easily accessible weapon once the door opened.


    Overall, I just focus on the objects and what they do.

  15. #15
    practical experience, FTW rwm4768's Avatar
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    While I noticed some issues with your excerpt (for one, it could be a lot more concise), the use of he didn't really stand out to me. It wasn't like you were starting every sentence with it.

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