Leave it to my daughter to stop me in my story tracks to announce… “You use too many pronouns.”
Boy, was she right.
Do people get confused when you tell a story?
You don’t know who the “he’s and she’s” and “this and that” are in my stories. And, your listener doesn’t know which “she” in your story that you’re referencing.
I was the queen of confusion as a story built up. And it was because of the overusage of pronouns.
So, if people have to stop you to get clarification about who or what you are talking about, then you load your stories with too many pronouns, too: he, they, she, her, that, it, them, etc.
I can hear the overusage of pronouns very quickly now when I’m listening to a person speak.
You’ll begin noticing this habit, too!
If a story only involved one person and one object of reference then stories wouldn’t be stories. Right? Tell me exactly who and what you are referencing, instead of using pronouns to identify who and what is happening.
There’s one word that causes more confusion than the other pronouns, and it’s the word “that”. “It” is confusing too!
Here are some fun examples of what your listener hears and what you see in your mind.
Then, “I told her to hand me that.”
The reader can’t see what you see in your mind. You know the story line. You know the room set up. You know the characters. You see the story in your mind’s eye. Your audience doesn’t. have a clue about the scenery. You have to fill in the details. Pronouns do not provide enough clarification for the audience to understand all your pronouns.
Solution: The next time you use the word that, follow it up with the exact thing you are referencing…
“I told her to hand me that piece of paper on the piano.”
Her??? Who is her?
I told the lady at the convenience store to hand me that piece of paper on the piano.
What??? A piano in a convenience store?
Yes! It’s a luxury convenience store. Jessie and Jane would absolutely love hanging out there. We should tell them about the store, and encourage them to invite their gang of friends they met at the new cafe down the road. It’s
When you’re telling your story, replace your prounoun with a person/place/thing. THEN, one sentence into the story if you are still talking about the same charachter, you can use “he, she, they”.
Example: Jessie went to the party and met up with Jane. Jane wasn’t really into the party so they left. Then they met up with a gang of friends at a new cafe down the road where a band was playing.
Okay, that’s enough of this story telling lesson today!