1. Dagolas
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    Dagolas Banned

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    Using "I" too much in first person

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Dagolas, Dec 6, 2012.

    I have written a text that I have posted in the workshop and I have had many reviews, I am glad but most of the reviews said that I use too many I's in the text that I wrote. I was wondering how I could remedy this I problem?
     
  2. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    You could make your character foucs on the other characters than him or herself. If your character is talking about what he or she knows about the other characters, he or she wouldn't use I a lot. However, your character will use I a lot if he or she is in a conflict.
     
  3. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Pick up some novels written in first person, hopefully by your favorite authors. Study to see how they wrote and avoided some of the pitfalls of first person POV, including overuse of I.

    It may take a while, reading, rereading, taking notes and keeping track of specific examples and techniques, but it will be worth it. Then, apply what you learned to your own story and writing style.

    Some of my goto First Person POV writers are: Steven Brust, Roger Zelazny, Laurell K. Hamilton and most recently, Kevin Hearne.
     
  4. Cynglen
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    Cynglen Senior Member

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    It's a matter of learning how to say something in different ways. As is always the answer in writing, reading what other people have done is the best way to expand your thought process. I'd suggest older stories with "grander" speech (Homer, Tolkien, "Gulliver's Travels," etc.) where the author/characters don't converse the way we do today.

    Taking your first post as an example (though I realize you were making a point with all the "I"s):

    I have written a text, that I have posted it in the workshop, and I have had received many reviews. I am glad, but most of the reviews said that I use there were too many I's in the text that I wrote. I was wondering How I could remedy this problem?
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wandered over to the review room to discuss this in the context of the piece in question.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    here's how:

     
  7. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    Stop focussing on yourself (the character) have them describe other people and what they are doing or saying and limit the 'I' bits for your (the character) reaction to these events. Your character should be the observer and tell us, the reader, what's happening. How many of us 'turn off' when a friends constantly talk about themselves--a lot I'm sure. But if they are telling us a story of say a fight we get will get the other persons prospective too.

    Example:
    Ally called me a ****, then she said she was going to take a pen and join up the spots on my face to make a picture. My first thought was that she was bluffing, so I stood my ground, thinking that would end it-- she wouldn't really draw on my face. But it didn't end it, she picked up a Marker pen and walked towards me. I panicked, and slapped her in the face. She slapped me back - it was a slap fest! Everyone crowded around us, shouting "Fight, Fight" It was then I lost my mind and punched her on the nose. She stood stunned as blood ran down her face. Get my point? 105 words or so and only used 'I' three times.
     
  8. IanLC
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    IanLC Member

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    I have a problem with using "I" too much as well. Yet I try to find substitute words and sometimes I just given into the overuse. So I would tell you to research and find other words to replace the "I".
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The problem isn't in the pronoun itself. The problem is in the overall approach to first person writing. It's symptomatic of an overly inward-directed point of view.

    Don't write: I saw him lying on the floor. I went over to him and checked for a pulse. There was none, but I could tell he had been dead for hours. I pulled out my phone and called 911.

    Instead, look outward, and only use the pronoun when your character's actions MUST be the focus: He was lying on the floor. There was no pulse, and his skin felt cold. He had been dead for hours. I called 911.

    The reader can infer that you saw the body, and that you had to go over and touch him to know he had no pulse. That is further reinforced by recognizing that cold skin also required touch. Making the phone call is a significant action, so it's worth expending an "I".

    In short, write what happened, not how you came about perceiving it, especially when it is obvious. Take yourself out of the equation as much as possible.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    good basic advice!
     

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