Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.

Probably a good idea, mostly, unless you’re backloading. 

Do you know about backloading? It’s an effective way to end a scene or chapter. From a course I gave in Atlanta in October of 2016, here’s an example:

A feeling of dread came over me as I opened the door. (Then you viciously cut to another scene and leave them hanging.)
Better would be this:
As I opened the door, I was overcome with an inexplicable feeling of dread.

Door is not the most important or evocative word in that cliffhanger sentence. Dread is so it needs to go last to leave an impression. Of course, in this case, dread is not a pronoun. Let me see if I can come up with a backloaded sentence splitting the pronoun from the antecedent.

How about this?
The boys, tiring after hours of seeking a way out of the dark, dank cave, felt the warmth and wetness of their own tears.

Can you think of better ones?

backhoe photo by Dan Zen from Flickr through

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