I was so hot that sweat poured down my face. I ran across the street to the hotdog stand. I asked the vendor for a bottle of soda. The moment he handed it to me, I guzzled it down so fast that I barely tasted it.
Pronouns, when overused, tend to draw too much attention to the character (as in: HEY, LOOK AT ME AND WHAT I AM SAYING, DOING, ETC!) versus focusing on the story unfolding before them. They are also guilty of carrying a lot of filter words, as if the reader needs to be told who is doing the seeing, hearing, touching, etc.
To combat the overuse of “I” at the start of first person narrative, you can often just cut it out:
- Instead of “I saw the duck dive in the pond,” you could say, “The duck dove into the pond.”
- Instead of “I heard thunder crack high in the clouds,” you could say, “Thunder cracked high in the clouds.”
- Instead of “I could smell the buttery goodness of the biscuits in the air,” you could say, “The buttery goodness of the biscuits filled the air.”
- Instead of “I realized Jane had clearly lied to her parents. I wonder why they were so forgiving?” you could say, “Jane had clearly lied to her parents. Why are they so forgiving?”
- Instead of “On the other hand, I could really use a break,” you could say, “On the other hand, a break would be nice.”
- Instead of “I closed my eyes, leaned in, and kissed Jane on the lips,” you could say, “Leaning in with eyes closed, I kissed Jane on the lips.”
- Instead of “I couldn’t contain my joy at seeing Jane again,” you could say, “My heart swelled at the sight of Jane rounding the corner.”
Want a challenge? Write down 600 words of first person narrative and only use 3 pronouns. (And don’t cheat by writing 600 words of scenry!) If you can incorporate dialog, actions, scenery, etc and not overuse pronouns, you are well on your way to being an effective first-person writer – IMHO.
And there you have it — a few ways to limit the overuse of “I” and other pronouns within first-person perspective. I hope this information helps you in some way. If you have any thoughts or ideas to share, please leave a comment.
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