Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lazy Writing

When it comes to reading, I can overlook a lot of things. Adverbs don't bother me, not even when they are in speech tags. Sometimes I enjoy flowery prose. I can handle head hopping and even some plot holes. At times, I will even overlook cliches, because sometimes they fit better than explaining it a different way.

But there is one thing that irritates me to high hell and I can't look past.

Personal pronoun starts.

Don't think I'm dumb. Every book/novel/manuscript has them, but it's the amount of them that gets on my nerves. When I see a paragraph and five out of eight sentences start with: he, she, I, or a name, it makes me want to scream.

In my opinion, this is lazy writing. And it isn't necessary!

When I write, I try not to use more than one per paragraph. Yes, I actually make a conscious effort to do this. Why? Because I don't want a boring book. I want people to sink into my writing and not be yawing over all the things he/she are doing.

It's almost as though people don't know how many alternative ways there are to start a sentence. So, I'm going to help out and list ten other ways to do so: 

1. Article - The girl sat on the bus.

2. Noun - Rain soaked through his jacket.

3. Interjection - Oh, he knew what he was doing.

4. Participial phrase - Running after her, he stumbled and fell.

5. Conjunction - Either she wanted to be with him or she didn't.

6. Adverb - Stubbornly, he crossed his arms.

7. Adjective - Upset over what had happened, he refused to speak to anyone.

8. Prepositional Phrase - At the top of the stairs, he turned around.

9. Infinitive Phrase - To pour out his soul to the woman he loved was his goal.

10. Gerund - Shouting was the only thing that worked.

These examples were written on the fly. Don't judge me on them.

I am not pedantic. Nor am I a grammar Nazi. To be honest, I'm not even all that picky. But Personal Pronoun starts are the bane of my existence. (That's a cliche!) Not only will adjusting how you start your sentence make your writing stronger, but it will also improve the readability of your novel. Oh, it also increases the fluidity of your narrative.


Jamie said...

It is funny you posted this. I am just editing my latest short and I noticed how many times I started a sentence with "She" or "Jane". I even pissed myself off. Hence, the editing phase...

brianleedurfee said...

crap. now you got me all paranoid about my writing. my solution. just start every sentence with 'and' or 'but' or 'however' or 'suddenly'. FIXED!

Jasmine Walt said...

That list is actually very helpful. I try not to start too many sentences with pronouns but sometimes they slip by. Hence, the editing phase. :)

J. Lea Lopez said...

Great post, Tee. I try very much to avoid the pronoun beginnings, but I'm finding it a little more difficult than usual in my current 1st person WIP. For some reason, actually seeing a list of alternatives is like a major lightbulb moment lol. I may have to copy it down and refer back to it as I write.

Suzanne Payne said...

I love this post! Now I need to go back and check to make sure I'm not doing it!!

Mick said...

I am doing this as I read your blog, well not right now but I AM doing this and all because the lady said so :p

alberta ross said...

It's one of my faults in the first draft - along with a few repeared words that I have to clean out on 2nd draft - but a timely reminder of the variations that can be used- good post

Allan Krummenacker said...

I allow myself to use those quirks in the first draft since I'm trying to get the story down. Edits and further drafts clear up most of that mess. I can certainly see your point and your list was very helpful. KUDOS.

L.S. Tree: Madhu's Shop. said...
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