You are here:

Writing Books/Using himself


Hi, Bobbie.
   Hope you can help out here. I am writing a fantasy/fiction about a baby dragon and everything is going okay, except for one minor/major problem which keeps needling me and I just can't seem to get around it.
 The problem is using the himself too often but I am finding it difficult to see another way around what i need to say.

Example:   Nee was glad he had finally learnt to use his wings and could control his flight, although at times, he found himself reverting to his clumsy ways of the past.

I have wracked my brain with this word so many times, it drives me batty. Normally i find it easy to rewrite but this word is a doozie!
Have you any suggestions on how to go about getting this word to pack its bags and leave?
         Many thanks in advance and looking forward to hearing from you.

If your book is written in as delightful a way as your question, I'm sure the book will be great.

To respond to your question, as I understand it, you want to reduce the uses of the word "himself," to avoid repetition. The answer is not always simple, but in the example sentence you sent, recasting the sentence helps.

Instead of this: "Nee was glad he had finally learnt to use his wings and could control his flight, although at times, he found himself reverting to his clumsy ways of the past," consider this: Nee was glad he had finally learnt to use his wings and could control his flight, although at times, he reverted to his clumsy ways of the past. Or this: Nee was glad he had finally learnt to use his wings and control his flight, although at times he reverted to his clumsy ways of the past, which frustrated him.

Here's an even better way to recast, which avoids telling (narrative) and shows in dialogue what he thinks of himself: After a flight with a friend, Nee came down in an awkward three-point landing. Two legs and one wing hit the ground. Frustrated, he shook his head and kicked the dirt. "Doggone it! I thought I'd learned to use my wings right, and now I'm back to being clumsy again."

You are being a wise writer to look for ways to avoid repetition, because as my rewrites show, avoiding repetition leads to stronger writing.

I needn't tell you, I'm sure, that I used American spelling and punctuation. I know that Australian English differs.  

Writing Books

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Bobbie Christmas


Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas owns Zebra Communications, a book-editing firm in metro Atlanta. She not only edits books, she also helps writers power up their prose to increase their chances of success. She is the author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), a creative-writing guide that won three awards.


Bobbie has spent more than 40 years in the publishing and communications industry and has run Zebra Communications, a book-editing company, since 1992. The editor of many publications and periodicals, she has worked with book publishers and trade magazine publishers as well as working in marketing communications and corporate communications.

Past president, Georgia Writers Association; past vice president, South Carolina Writers Workshop; charter/lifelong member, Florida Writers Association; Southeastern Writers Association; Atlanta Writers Club; Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL); International Guild of Professional Consultants

Write in Style (Union Square Publishing), A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation), A Cup of Comfort for Friends (Adams Media), A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Sons (Adams Media), Haunted Engounters (Atriad Press), Remembering Woolworth's (St. Martin's Press), First-Time Home Buyer magazine, HomeBusiness Journal, Apparel Industry Magazine, Edge Magazine, Atlanta Jewish Times, Time Travel Australia, American Writers Review, Points North, That's Entertainment, Atlanta Parent, Agnes Scott Alumnae Magazine, etc.

Journalism: University of South Carolina plus four decades of working in publishing, marketing, communications, advertising, newspaper and magazine production, book publishing, etc.

Awards and Honors
First Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers Annual Contest, 2005; First Place, education, Royal Palm Literary Award, 2004; Best in Division, Georgia Author of the Year Awards, 2005; Finalist, Best Books 2005, USA BookNews Third Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers, 1999; Nominated for Georgia Author of the Year, 1998; plus many other awards

Past/Present Clients
Capital Books, Sourcebooks, Olin Frederick, The Writer's Machine, Russell Dean & Company, Outskirts Press, and hundreds of writers.

©2017 All rights reserved.