- QUESTION: It's recently been pointed out to me that I sometimes overuse "he" and "she" when referring to my characters in narrative as well as action. I also use direct referral by calling my characters by their names, and their general persons -- ie, "Bob," "Jill," "the man," "the young woman," etc. -- but I find that these phrases soon become old too. What should I do?
Show what the viewpoint character is feeling and seeing. For example, Tom remembers giving flowers to Jane.
Tom recalled how Jane's face lit up, her cheeks equaling the pink of the roses she clutched to her breast. She had smiled shyly at him, and he'd fallen in love at that instant.
Her face had lit up, her cheeks equaling the pink of the roses she clutched to her breast. Her shy smile had won his heart in that instant.
The second version is a more intimate viewpoint, and I've varied the sentence structure a bit.
As a rule of thumb, you shouldn't use a character's name as designation more than once a page unless it's a scene with a number of characters.
It's better to be a bit boring using the character's name, which the reader will skim, rather than to confuse the reader as to who is doing what action. This stops the reading process completely which is the one thing a writer should avoid at all costs.