the or a?


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  1. #1

    the or a?

    I am working on my chapters of why an author would use the over a. Or vice versa. I don't need to get it perfect. But I wondered if you had any opinions? Or you can post an opening paragraph and I'll try to guess.
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  2. #2
    Pretty sure that classic story telling is to use a for first mention and the for subsequent mention (if there's only one in the story.)

    A princess lived in a castle. The princess was unhappy.

    Pretty sure that when the story is told from the persepctive of a character, this rule flips to being a for the character first noticing it and then for subsequent mentions (if there's only one is the scene.

    I was walking towards the lake when I saw a deer.

    But there's so many other things going on.
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  3. #3
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    Change them around constantly up to draft 80. Plus references to 'def' and 'indef' in everyday conversation...like a writer + superior laughter. Leave the room when the past continuous present futurists arrive in beards (death to TEFL).

  4. #4
    Good question!

    Sam saw the man as he got out of a car. (The man is important to the story and there has already been a reference to him previously.)

    Sam saw a man as he got out of the car. (The car is already part of the story and there needs to have been a reference to the car previously.)
    Sometimes in the waves of change we find our new direction...
    - unknown

  5. #5
    "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.


    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








  6. #6
    To me, the implies something specific, whereas a is more general.

    He saw the car from across the lot. -> the character is familiar with the vehicle.
    He saw a car from across the lot. -> the character sees a random vehicle.

  7. #7
    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.
    Do you mean from the reader's perspective or a character's? ("known or expected" to who?)
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor View Post
    Good question!

    Sam saw the man as he got out of a car. (The man is important to the story and there has already been a reference to him previously.)

    Sam saw a man as he got out of the car. (The car is already part of the story and there needs to have been a reference to the car previously.)
    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.
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  9. #9
    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.
    Good point! In this case they are interchangeable with little difference in meaning. hmmm... you got me here.
    Sometimes in the waves of change we find our new direction...
    - unknown

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    Do you mean from the reader's perspective or a character's? ("known or expected" to who?)
    From the character's.


    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








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