There were three men: a grandfather, a father, and a son.
He said, “I’m in love!”
The other said, “You’re always in love. Tell us something new.”
He rubbed his hand over his face before sitting down at the desk.
He said, “It’s time to grow up.”
The first said, “I’m happy, get off my back.”
Do you have any idea who was speaking in that scene? Of course not.
This is the problem many writers have, especially young writers who are just starting to figure writing out.
It might not even be as drastic as the excerpt above, but making sure the subject is clear is extremely important when writing a story.
Writers don’t always have to use more specific pronouns every time they write, but when there are multiple characters who use the same pronouns, it’s important to specify which he or she is speaking or moving in the story.
Some scenes, once the he and she have been identified, can occur without needing to use names or specific details for who is speaking or acting, like the following example:
Jeremy and Hope sat down at the table across from one another.
He said, “Are you sure you want to go through with this new job?”
“Of course! It might not be exactly what I was aiming for, but it’s the first step in the right direction.”
He sighed. “If you say so. I just want the best for you.
She smiled. “Thank you!”
As you can see in that sample, I didn’t always specify who was speaking, but based on the paragraph order and actions at the beginning of the paragraphs, you can tell who is speaking.
Take some time with your students to rewrite the first excerpt to create a story. It can be funny, where it’s the grandfather falling in love again. You can even continue the story, teaching the students how to keep a specific idea flowing through a whole scene, and not just a few sentences.
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