Pronouns are common in our everyday life, including initial pronouns. This includes words like he, she, they, them, it, and also possessive words like his and her. The use of pronouns in our writing is something we can’t entirely avoid. But, there are times when you should substitute another word or phrase for the pronoun, especially at the beginning of a sentence. When a writer uses pronouns to start a sentence, they’re called “initial pronouns”.
Take for example, “It was a dark and dreary night.” Technically, the sentence is correct. But, there’s room for improvement. You could rewrite that sentence to make it more dramatic. For example, “Clouds hung thick in the air, blotting out the moon, making it difficult to see.” You’ve just generated more interest.
Editing Third Person for Initial Pronouns
You can’t avoid using pronouns entirely and in the editing process, you should be aware of initial pronouns. According to Pro Writing Aid, initial pronoun use should be less than 30%. You can easily modify sentences like “She trembled with fear” by using the character’s name or replacing it with “The woman trembled with fear.” Or, to avoid repetitive sentences beginning with “the woman”, you can rewrite the entire sentence like, “Creeping through the darkness, she trembled with fear.”
Editing First Person for Initial Pronouns
Editing for pronouns at the beginning of sentences when you’re working with first person point of view can be tricky. Since you’re writing from the perspective of only one character, you will frequently be forced to use sentences like “I walked down the sidewalk.” Consider modifying this to something like, “Head lowered, I walked down the empty sidewalk.” Your sentence has just changed to show the reader something about the character (is he/she scared, nervous, etc.).
Of course, you can’t avoid sentences starting with ‘I’ entirely when in first person. So, when editing, you should consider the sentences beginning with other pronouns like it, she, his. Those are excellent opportunities to alter your sentence structure. Take “She was sad” and change it to read “Alicia’s face fell, tears welling up in her eyes.” See the difference?
Finding Your Pronouns
If you don’t want to edit line-by-line, you can use your word processors “find” function to highlight pronouns. You can check out English Grammar Revolution’s list of pronouns to see all of them. As you look through your writing, you’ll probably find that you have a few you do use too frequently. Consider the sentence beginning with a pronoun and how you can make that sentence more enticing.
When Initial Pronouns are Okay
Short, quick sentences are generally accepted when there’s some action going on. In this case, the initial pronoun may be okay to use. “The truck barreled toward the sidewalk. She jumped aside! It missed her by mere inches.” You could choose to use the character’s name in the second sentence, but it’s acceptable to leave it as is.
Avoiding initial pronouns may seem challenging at first. Continue writing as you always have, especially when you’re really in the groove. But, come editing time, look at how many sentences start with pronouns, and consider how you could make those sentences better. When you must leave the initial pronouns in place, make sure your sentences aren’t “he said, she said” repetitively. And at the same time, avoid overuse of “the man, the woman” as well.Follow Us! by
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