How can you rephrase this sentence so that it doesn't have the word "reader" twice? Here's the sentence:  The reader collectively recognizes her plea to steer from self-pity mode, even though Lucy's story stirs the reader with compassion for the author.

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There are going to be many ways to address this.  One such way would be to create two different and powerful sentences.  "The reader clearly recognizes her plea to steer from a mode of self-pity.  This is noticed while Lucy's story stirs the reader with compassion."  Something along these lines could be done, in that you are breaking the complexity of one sentence into two effective ones.  The reader term is not needed twice.  If you were committed to the one sentence approach, I would probably word it in a manner such as this:  "The reader collectively recognizes her plea to steer from self-pity mode, even though Lucy's story creates the emotional atmosphere of compassion."

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What about this?

Even though Lucy's story stirs readers with compassion for the author, they do recognize her plea to steer from self-pity.

By changing the order of the clauses, the focus is on the readers' recognition as the main idea.

Often, too, many difficulties arise from using the singular form of words such as reader, rather than readers  because any pronouns that follow must be singular.  This fact makes for awkwardness with the his/her that must be used.

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"The reader collectively recognizes her plea to steer from self-pity mode, even though Lucy's story stirs the reader with compassion for the author."

Yes, this sentence is wordy and a bit recursive.  You've got reader, Lucy, and author, two of which are implicit (reader and author), so I would focus on Lucy entirely.  I don't know the story or context and a few of the pronouns are vague, but here goes:

1.  First, I would get rid of "reader" and "author" and "collectively."  We all know there's an author and readers.  That's obligatory.  Are readers all reading and recognizing her plea together?  I don't think so.  It's unnecessary.

2.  "Her plea" needs an object or indirect object, or both.  To steer what?  Herself?  Her emotions?  Her thoughts?  What is being steered?

3.  Steering toward what?  Compassion?  Empathy?  Sympathy?

4.  Who's plea is it?  Her own?

5.  To whom is she plea-ing?  The reader, the author, another character.

6.  I don't like the last part of the sentence.  It seems extra or redundant.  I would omit it.

Now, we're left with something like this:

"Lucy's plea to [John in chapter 3?] helps steer her emotions from self-pity to compassion."

Much simpler and focused.

Good luck....

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The easiest way to rephrase sentences comes through simply starting the sentence off with different words.  Here are some options:

1.  As a reader, it is easy to recognize that the author wants us to veer away from self-pity, but it is hard to not be stirred with compassion through Lucy's story.

2.  Lucy's story stirs compassion for the author, even though the reader is encourages to steer from self-pity mode.

3.  Self-pity is something that the author specifically does not want the reader to feel, but it is hard, since Lucy's story stirs so much compassion.

4. The reader easily feels compassion for Lucy's story, even though the author expressed a desire to not be the object of self-pity.

 

I hope that helped!  Good luck!

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