3. Call Them by Their Names
Names. Give people names. For personal essays, make them up if you need to, for privacy or protection. But repeated and unwavering references to a key character as, say, “my brother” or “my neighbor” become tedious.
Don’t refer to your mother solely as “my mother” or “my mom.” What do you call her, in memory or life? Such a difference in intimacy, that simple act of deleting the possessive pronoun and capping the word: Mom, Ma, Mother—whatever you know or knew her as. That’s how she lives in your head. Let her live on the page.
(“She” and “he” serve useful functions, too.)