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Thread: the or a?

  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    You do not start your stories with the?

    I mean, a start could be "A tropical rain fell in drenching sheets..." or "The tropical rain fell in drenching sheets..." As far as I can tell, they are both fine, so if you would use "a", that's fine, I'm just asking. Crichton used the, and I think that's okay too.
    To add to Taylor's comment, in this example, the article could be omitted entirely.

    I had the opposite first reaction to BD. I'd reference from the reader's perspective unless the character's perspective has already been made clear. Plus, I think you're correct in your notion that "a" can be correct on first reference, and "the" thereafter once the object has been introduced as a specific and durable story element.
    Last edited by vranger; February 13th, 2021 at 06:09 PM.

  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by vranger View Post
    To add to Taylor's comment, in this example, the article cold be omitted entirely.

    I had the opposite first reaction to BD. I'd reference from the reader's perspective unless the character's perspective has already been made clear. Plus, I think you're correct in your notion that "a" can be correct on first reference, and "the" thereafter once the object has been introduced as a specific and durable story element.
    I think, for me, using "the" in the first instance like this actually helps establish the character POV. It's as if the writer says: of course you haven't seen this before as a reader; you've only just started. Therefore it has to be the character.


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    The first cut don't hurt at all
    The second only makes you wonder
    The third will have you on your knee
    s
    - Propaganda, "Duel"

    *

    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
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  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by bdcharles View Post
    I think, for me, using "the" in the first instance like this actually helps establish the character POV. It's as if the writer says: of course you haven't seen this before as a reader; you've only just started. Therefore it has to be the character.
    Do you also use "he" or "she" in your first lines?

    She eyed me coldly.
    A woman eyed me coldly.
    The woman eyed me coldly.
    Most excellent (and original) webessays on Hidden Content and Hidden Content .

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    Do you also use "he" or "she" in your first lines?

    She eyed me coldly.
    A woman eyed me coldly.
    The woman eyed me coldly.
    Generally, no. I kind of start a bit more zoomed out than that, a bit more wide-angle. I guess if I was to choose among these three, I'd go for the last one. It establishes POV without being super-vague.


    Hidden Content Monthly Fiction Challenge


    The first cut don't hurt at all
    The second only makes you wonder
    The third will have you on your knee
    s
    - Propaganda, "Duel"

    *

    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous








  5. #15
    Generally, I would use 'a' for the first mention and then 'the' for the second but there are other situations I'd use 'the'. If I'm describing something with 'assumed' attributes, I'd use 'the'. For instance, if I was in a room, I wouldn't say 'a floor' or 'a ceiling' or 'a door' because they're all assumed to be there. I would however use 'a' for a table, chair, bed, stool etc, because you can't always assume they're there. If I went into a shop, I wouldn't use 'a' for the counter or 'a' for the till, I'd use 'the' because, once again, they're assumed to be there.
    Just An Ordinary Bloke, Doing Ordinary Things, In An Extraordinary World.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bdcharles View Post
    "The" suggests some previous knowledge or familiarity, so it's an efficient worldbuild implying that the subject is known or expected, or has "been present before" in some way.
    Succinctly put by BD.

    You walk into an apartment. The briefcase is on the table.
    You walk into an apartment. A briefcase is on the table.

  7. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMightyAz View Post
    Generally, I would use 'a' for the first mention and then 'the' for the second but there are other situations I'd use 'the'. If I'm describing something with 'assumed' attributes, I'd use 'the'. For instance, if I was in a room, I wouldn't say 'a floor' or 'a ceiling' or 'a door' because they're all assumed to be there. I would however use 'a' for a table, chair, bed, stool etc, because you can't always assume they're there. If I went into a shop, I wouldn't use 'a' for the counter or 'a' for the till, I'd use 'the' because, once again, they're assumed to be there.
    A really good point! I would also describe this as if there is only one, as in 'the sky' or the 'the ground'.
    Sometimes in the waves of change we find our new direction...
    - unknown

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