Pronouns and Antecedents
Another potential source for grammar mishaps involves pronouns — the
Person — the pronoun must match the specific person being referenced;
Tom handed Bob the file. He smiled.If the writer's intention is that Tom is the one who smiled, the sentence has a problem, since the pronoun herefers to the last masculine noun before it, namely Bob. Replacing the pronoun with Tomor changing the sentence to Tom handed Bob the file and smiledremoves the problem.
Number — the pronoun must match the specific number implied by the noun;
The man raced across the yard. They tripped over an exposed root and fell.The pronoun theyrefers to the noun man,which is singular.
theyis incorrect, it should be replaced with he.
Gender — the pronoun must match the gender implied by the noun;
Jennifer walked down the hall. He stopped.The pronoun herefers to the noun Jennifer,which is incorrect. The correct pronoun should be she.
Making the pronoun agree with the antecedent when the pronoun refers to a person is probably one of the most common mistakes made by new writers. This is especially true in the romance genre since most novels are written in third person. Many writers hesitate to use the hero or heroine's given name when writing from their POV because it can distance the reader. As a result, authors rely heavily on the use of pronouns.
Making sure that all the he and she references in a romance novel are accurate can be especially tricky for scenes with more than one character of the same gender. One technique is to print out the chapter, then circle in red every pronoun you find and draw an arrow back to its implied antecedent to make certain it's correct.
While it's true that overuse of your character's given name, especially when writing from her POV, can distance the reader, having an incorrect pronoun-antecedent agreement is worse. After all, if a reader becomes confused while reading your novel, she may decide to put it aside … and never pick it back up again.