• Welcome, visitor! Litopia is the oldest & friendliest community for writers on the net. If you are serious about your writing, we cordially invite you to join us.

Worried about "He"

#1
Hello!

I am writing a short sci-fi story and the protagonist has not been introduced yet. I am worried I am overusing he.

Here is a passage where the word he appears a few times;

He watched Ricard’s feed occasionally focusing on the Promenade’s feed where there was still no movement, whatever had been advancing down the promenade was still three blocks away. Glancing at his pistol, he noted it had recharged to full power since the hunt. He looked over to Ricard who had been doing a lot of prodding with the handle of his knife since slicing open the flesh sac, but not much else, “What’s going on Ricard?”

This is one of the worst offending paragraphs. Any advice would be great.

How would you dodge this issue?
 
#2
The problem is that you're using a lot of filtering statements. He watched. He noted. He looked. These distance the reader. Try losing them and see what happens. I've chopped it about a bit to give you an idea below. I hope this helps.

There was still no movement on the Promenade’s feed, whatever had been advancing was still three blocks away. He glanced at his pistol. It had recharged to full power since the hunt. Ricard had been doing a lot of prodding with the handle of his knife since slicing open the flesh sac, but not much else, “What’s going on Ricard?”
 
#6
I agree with Kitty about avoiding 'filtering' words, but also, the grammarian in me suggests that you should not use a personal pronoun prior to giving your character an identity or a name. This doesn't necessarily mean giving anything of your story away... If you do not, then you are keeping your character at a distance from the reader, which diffuses his/her interest/empathy. It also comes across as a ruse. The rule of thumb is to keep things from the other characters in your story, but not from your reader.
 
#7
I agree with Kitty about avoiding 'filtering' words, but also, the grammarian in me suggests that you should not use a personal pronoun prior to giving your character an identity or a name. This doesn't necessarily mean giving anything of your story away... If you do not, then you are keeping your character at a distance from the reader, which diffuses his/her interest/empathy. It also comes across as a ruse. The rule of thumb is to keep things from the other characters in your story, but not from your reader.
Thank you. He has an identity throughout, but I just wanted to leave the name out until the end to serve a subplot. Hopefully, it works and excluding the name gives the final paragraphs more impact.
 

Amber

Benefactor
#8
I agree with Kitty about avoiding 'filtering' words, but also, the grammarian in me suggests that you should not use a personal pronoun prior to giving your character an identity or a name. This doesn't necessarily mean giving anything of your story away... If you do not, then you are keeping your character at a distance from the reader, which diffuses his/her interest/empathy. It also comes across as a ruse. The rule of thumb is to keep things from the other characters in your story, but not from your reader.
I can't argue with this. Still, I have a first person story where the narrator -- the *I* -- doesn't have a name. Yes, it's a little cold and distant. I still wouldn't change it though. It is what it is and I think, what its supposed to be.
 

Amber

Benefactor
#9
He watched Ricard’s feed occasionally focusing on the Promenade’s feed where there was still no movement, whatever had been advancing down the promenade was still three blocks away. Glancing at his pistol, he noted it had recharged to full power since the hunt. He looked over to Ricard who had been doing a lot of prodding with the handle of his knife since slicing open the flesh sac, but not much else, “What’s going on Ricard?”


You could try first person.

I switched back and forth between Ricard's and The Promenade's feed. No movement. Whatever was advancing down the promenade was still at least three blocks away. My pistol fully changed, I noticed Ricard prodding loose pieces of flesh with the knife handle since slicing open the flesh sac, but not much else. "What's going on Ricard?"

-- Of course I guess it would depend on the purpose of this paragraph and I couldn't tell what Ricard was prodding and so I just put something in there.
 
#10
I agree with all the above. It reads like a first draft. It is overwritten, that's all. Revision will sort it.

For example

Glancing at his pistol, he noted it had recharged to full power since the hunt

From this I only need to understand

The pistol was now fully recharged.
 
#13
I can't argue with this. Still, I have a first person story where the narrator -- the *I* -- doesn't have a name. Yes, it's a little cold and distant. I still wouldn't change it though. It is what it is and I think, what its supposed to be.
I agree that normally you would want to give the narrator a name before using their pronoun. Exceptions would be where it is important to the plot that the reader does not know the narrator or viewpoint character's real name until later.
However, I too have written a whole book without giving the viewpoint character a name. And that was in second person...:eek:
I wouldn't advise it though.
 

Amber

Benefactor
#14
I agree that normally you would want to give the narrator a name before using their pronoun. Exceptions would be where it is important to the plot that the reader does not know the narrator or viewpoint character's real name until later.
However, I too have written a whole book without giving the viewpoint character a name. And that was in second person...:eek:
I wouldn't advise it though.
Good grief! How hard. I assume you had a good reason.

It hurts my head to write the story I wrote.
 
#15
Good grief! How hard. I assume you had a good reason.

It hurts my head to write the story I wrote.
I didn't really have any reason as such. I started it as an experiment, just trying to get the reader nearer to the story. I found I had a sort of plot idea and followed it. By the time I'd written about 20,000 words I thought I might as well see how far I could take it.
I wouldn't say it was in any way publishable. Just a fair story told in an unusual way. I may go back to it and revise it as a first person ... but more likely I'll leave it how it is.
 
#16
Experimentation is good! @Tim James you should check out the flash club - if you haven’t already! It’s a good place for trying something a bit different and getting a sense of whether something works or not! Some of my flash pieces I’ve gone on to expand for either sale or competition entry. :)
 
Top