Every time I write and read the 'she's and the 'he's especially in the same paragraph it confuses me and that worries me if the readers will get confused.
Obviously through different actions and dialogues peppered through one would be able to differentiate the two same gendered characters from each other but it gets tiring to keep on writing
'The detective' or some other adjective describing the character or repeating their names.
How can I distinguish the two different 'she's and 'him's?
"There isn't much we can do unless you tell us why you were there." The cop tells the woman.
The woman nervously taps her fingers on her arms and answers her question.
From context alone you'd know the second 'her' in that last stence would be the cop. But as the paragraph gets longer sometimes the 'she's and 'her's gets confused.
Or sometimes in just this single sentence from a piece of writing I did, you could misinterpret the 'his personal study' to be either Jonathan's or the unnamed 'he':
He looks down at the stone mask lying innocuously on Jonathan's table in his study and smiles.
I mean with context you could maybe guess the study is also Jonathan's but it could also possibly be the unknown 'he's study or it could be a shared study.
What I want to convey is that this is Jonathan's study and also his table and that the 'he' is intruding. But as they're both male how would I suggest that without being too wordy?
I guess I could say instead -
"He looks down at the stone mask lying innocuously on Jonathan's table in the other man's study and smiles.
or even repeat his name again. Jonathan's study.
But is there another way to distinguish between the 'she's and 'he's in the writing? When I read others' works, I don't ever seem to notice if it's oddly placed or could be misinterpreted because I guess the mind just assumes but how can I distinctly differentiate them is my question without having to overtly rely on repeating 'the other man' or 'the detective' or 'the younger woman' etc ?
Sorry for the ramble. I just keep on noticing this issue in my writing and it really bothers me and I'm hoping others have some good suggestions/advice on how to well - reduce this issue of mine in my writing?