1. naturemage
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    naturemage Active Member

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    how to avoid using "I" too much in first person

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by naturemage, Jan 21, 2015.

    Have you found a way to avoid using the word "I" too much in a first person story. I've written a first person story before, but I'm writing a new one now and I just feel like I've been using "I" so much. I try to change it up so it isn't the first word so much, but it just seems to keep appearing every paragraph.
    Any suggestions? Or is it assumed that the word "I" will appear this much in a first person?
     
  2. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    Have the person talk less of themselves.

    Otherwise, I and me are the only singular first person personal reference pronoun in the English language.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2015
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  3. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    If you have sentences like 'I saw blah blah and blah' cut out the 'I saw' because it's often not needed.
     
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  4. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're using "I" so often that you're getting worried, it sounds as if your character is a little self-absorbed. Try something like "The open plaza was covered with young women wearing as little as decency would allow." rather than "I watched the scantily-clad women running around the plaza and my lust grew". If you're in first person, it's all told from HIS POV, so anything that is seen is what he sees...you don't have to SAY that he saw it.
     
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  5. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    If your story is done in first person you don't even need to use "I" at all. Let me demonstrate:

    Instead of saying "I could see the whale's shadow floating in the water."

    ...you could say "Looking down in the water the whale's shadow floated in the water."

    or maybe

    Instead of saying "I kissed Sarah on her lips."

    ...you could say "After closing my eyes Sarah's lips pressed against mine."

    So as you can see you don't need to use "I" all the time. You can find ways of getting around it, but you don't need to restrict yourself from completely using it. Hope this helped.
     
  6. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Take a look at some novels written in first person POV. Observe how those authors addressed your concern. Then apply those methods to your own story and writing style.
     
  7. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Nobody is conscious that they see, smell, hear or touch things because they're too busy doing it. Your stomach could be growling over the scent of chicken grilling on the barbeque so likewise you don't need your mc to state - I smelled grilling chicken. You're mind is going - Where in the hell did Marie get that ugly blouse? I better ask so I can cross that store off my list - not, I see Marie walk up to me wearing the world's ugliest blouse. If you stay in the characters shoes you'll notice that you don't need to establish the I as much. For me I notice I's creep up when my character gets too introspective - I think, I wish, I remember, or the writer is concentrating on the image they want to present to the reader rather than the emotion.

    Here's a section of something I've been working on. I'm no expert at pov but I have improved by angling sentences to fit my mc's mood, tone, and observances. By establishing a tone I only need to refer back to my mc when needed. -

    I ran into Tinsel last night. She'd wrestled some kittens in a sack away from a man trying to drown them in the canal behind her house. There was a bruise on her chin where he struck her after apparently she kicked him. And after a chase up the embankment, or down an alley, a fall over a rock or a rolling wine bottle, she now limped. Looked a friggin mess. Couldn't get the story out of Tinsel, not linear anyhow. She kept shoving a kitten in my face and adding details whenever she could recall them. I could kill the bastard, the guy not the kitten, and demanded to know who he was. "Oh, who cares," she said. " I have to get rid of them or they'll be more bruises."
    My blank look had her going, "Duh, Mommie Dearest." from a work in progress Tinsel.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2015
  8. Carly Berg
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    Carly Berg Contributing Member

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    Good suggestions. Also, I'd just write it without worrying first, then go through and highlight "I" throughout. When you read through, you should be able to reword a lot of the sentences to eliminate a good percentage of them.
     
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  9. naturemage
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    naturemage Active Member

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    Thank you all very much for your replies. I will take all of them into consideration. I will have to do Carly's mostly, because I am very much a "write it down first" author. I need to get the idea out before I go polishing it.
     
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  10. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    That is eight times in one short paragraph. You do use it a lot.
     
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  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I write like this, spill it out without worrying so you get the story down, then edit it into a masterpiece. ;)
     
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  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    For example:
    Thank you all very much for your replies. I will take all of them into [They are all worthy of] consideration. I will have to do Carly's mostly, because I am very much a [comment] reflects my "write it down first" [style] author. I need to get [Getting] the idea out before I go polishing it works well.​
     
  13. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, actually, not. That would mean that the whale's shadow is what's looking down in the water as well as floating in it.

    Same problem here. Was it really Sarah's lips that closed his eyes? I suppose she could do that, but that wasn't the original idea, was it?

    (Sorry, couldn't resist.) :crazy:

    "Sarah's lips pressed against mine" (etc., etc.) would do nicely. And, for the OP, it would get the reader more into the experience of the narrator, who wouldn't be so trapped in himself.

    As for the whale example, I don't know enough about them to know if their shadows float or not.
     
  14. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    You may be a senior member but that doesn't mean you have to correct the newer members' posts to prove them wrong :crazy: jk

    Those were some random examples I came up with on the spot. It gets the point across... at least. :confuzled:
     
  15. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    My apologies if it came across that way. Perhaps it was the emoticon? Meant it as poking fun at myself-- I teach English. Proving anyone wrong for its own sake was in no wise my intention.

    That said, if a suggestion is made by a member of any duration that might lead another member astray, isn't it a good idea for those who see the danger to warn them off? Made up on the spot or not, are those examples indeed clear and reasonable alternatives to the excessive use of "I"?

    But maybe I should have mentioned it to you in a private message. If so, I apologize again, this time for dropping the brick in public.
     
  16. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Taking the whale example, how about instead of "I could see the whale's shadow floating in the water", using something like: -

    Reflected light upon my retina was burned. The image was one not soon to be forgotten, for it was of something glimpsed fleetingly; something that my brain struggled to translate. A shadow in the water perhaps? But a shadow must have a source to block out the light and it was not immediately clear whether the shadow was in fact the source or just a shadow. Then a sound oscillated against the drum of my ear. The sound was of agitated water, as if provoked by some large object into an effervescent foam. Of a sudden the cause was apparent. There was the hide of a whale subsiding beneath the gentling sea.

    Just an idea.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2015
  17. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    It's fine. I probably could've come up with better examples if I had more time.
     
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