I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript. Yep, you can join in the fun, too. Let’s take a looksee at topic #30
30: Pronouns are big trouble for such little words. The most useful piece of information I ever encountered on the little blighters was this: pronouns refer to the nearest matching noun backwards. For example: John took the knife out of its sheath and stabbed Paul with it. Well, that’s good news for Paul. If you travel backwards from ‘it’, you’ll see that John has stabbed Paul with the sheath! Observing this rule leads to much clearer writing.
Wow… This is a rule I’ve never heard before. Yes, I’ve corrected manuscripts where they’ve made an error like this, and I’ve had similar errors corrected in my own work… but counting backwards lie that… I never even thought of this trick.
This is great advice! Many times I’ve written something and wondered if it was confusing. This like trick may help a lot!
Try this in your own manuscript and see if it catches any errors.
- What Is It? Avoid Undefined Pronouns to Strengthen Your Writing (changeitupediting.com)
- Pronouns (kelts.wordpress.com)
- Pronouns: A Way to Use Them (english.answers.com)
- Levels of “No,” or Why I Reject Manuscripts (nepheletempest.wordpress.com)