Writing Fiction with Gender-Neutral Pronouns

Internals of a house, showing floor truss, drain pipe, and spider webs.

This story will introduce the reader to writing fiction with gender-neutral pronouns. If you haven’t already, please read our companion article, Proper Use of Gender-Neutral Pronouns.

The Architect’s House
Once upon a time, there was an architect named Sal.1 Sal designed his/her own house, all by his/her self, since he/she had a degree in the field. However, when it came time to build the house, he/she had to hire a contractor, who knew how to do the framing, drive nails, etc. Sal heard of one contractor who had secret contacts who were electricians, plumbers, and local building inspectors, which meant his/her houses were always up to code and passed inspection with flying colours.

Sal knew that contractors charge lots of money, so before signing the papers, he/she decided to sleep on it. Unfortunately, he/she realised he/she could not sleep in his/her master bedroom upstairs, as the house had not been built yet. So he/she settled for sleeping in his/her basement, which was where the boiler was going to be installed—he/she/it was a very old house, so he/she/it had a boiler.

While sleeping, Sal had a dream that his/her contractor was a ringmaster in a circus, the electrician was a clown, while the plumber was a dancing bear. The contractor had a large black top hat on his/her head and a long cane in his/her hand, with which he/she prodded the plumber who was a dancing bear. The plumber, that is, the dancing bear, wore a little bow-tie around his/her neck and tried to attack the clown. The clown (who was an electrician) jumped into his/her clown car to get away from the dancing bear and hit a utility pole, which fell down in the middle of the circus. He/she immediately lifted the utility pole back up and fixed the wires, but was electrocuted since he/she was wearing clown clothes and no safety gear. Finally, the local building inspector shut down the circus with a wave of his/her hand, and the big top came tumbling down on the entire crowd of spectators.

Sal woke from the dream extremely frightened. Next morning, he/she called the contractor, told him/her to start building the house, and left a check for exactly 30 per-cent of the contracted price on the coffee table, which was in the living room, which hadn’t been built yet. Then Sal went to work, met with a client, and began designing his/her house to look exactly like itself.

  1. As a nickname, Sal could be short for Sally, Salvador, or Salamander.

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