Tuesday, March 30, 2010

IT – No, not the Steven King title

A common grammatical error I find deals with pronouns improperly referring back to their antecedent. One author swore a disconnected "he" naturally refers back to the POVC (point of view character). Well, it might, as long as no other noun precedes your "he" that could cause confusion.

I find "it" to be my particular problem pronoun. I think I'm now getting into a good habit of catching the rascal. Maybe that's why "it" jumps out at me when I'm critiquing others' work. I find ninety percent of the time—a number I pull out of the air—"it" doesn't meaningfully attribute to any subject or direct object, but is left hanging as a thing the reader must guess about, or reread.

Nice habit—not making your reader scan back over what he's already read.

For a mere two letters, that lazy little pronoun can bore a reader as fast as any writing error. Watch every use of the generic "it." I bet you can enrich your prose by striking the poser from your vocabulary.

Write every day!


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