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if your story is about john, and the reader sees the world through his eyes, should you use other words to describe him? for example. instead of saying "john went to the story." would you say "the youth went to the store." if not, how else can the writer refer to john without being repetive?

Hello Sara:

You have raised an interesting question. How DOES one avoid repetition when speaking of characters?

To use phrases like "the youth" or "the boy" is not recommended as they sound forced and awkward. Besides, if you have decided to use John's point of view throughout, he would not refer to himself as "The youth."

Characters are dealt with in two ways: action and dialogue. If John is alone in what he is doing, use "he." If he is in conversation with one other person, and you have established that it is John and X talking by using their names at the beginning of the conversation (and you separate their comments by beginning a new paragraph for each), you can leave off the identification. Always establish the name at the beginning of the action or conversation.

There is nothing wrong with repeating his name, so long as it is not overdone: in every other line, for example.

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high score over 600 questions.

And good luck with your writing!

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Susan Rand


I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.


I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

BA degree in Written Communication

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