Monday, February 16, 2009

Avoiding the I, Oh and You

By Carol Denbow
When new authors write non-fiction, they will often base their subject matter on personal experiences. One mistake commonly made, is the over use of the word “I” in the beginning of sentences. “I know this because I’ve been there, done that.” Or, “I did it this, or that way.” Over use of “I” can make your work sound self-absorbing; not something you should want to portray to your readers—especially if your plans include a follow-up edition. Try finding other words to begin your sentences, such as, “Having learned my self, I tried it this way, and it seemed to work.”

Another word or “phrase” really, to avoid beginning a sentence with, “Oh, by the way,…” Before you add this to your text, sit back and decide if it is really necessary to make your point. “I went to the grocery store and they don’t have beans. Oh, by the way, they didn’t have rice either.” Instead, how about, “When I went to the grocery store they didn’t have beans or rice.” Play with your sentences and try to hone in on your creativity.

“You should try fishing on the Rouge River.” Sounds a bit like your insisting I do what you ask. How about, “Fishing on the Rouge River is great.” It’s okay to address your reader in a personal manner, but overuse of the same word, such as, “you,” might begin to sound aggressive in tone; try sounding more suggestive rather than forceful.

Over use of any words makes your manuscript sound repetitive and unprofessional. The wonderful thing about this computer age (specifically Thesaurus), is that the dictionary is at our disposal at all times—use it! If you just can’t “find the words,” you certainly should be able to with the help of your writing software.

To complete and publish your own book, read A Book Inside, How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Story available through,, or wherever fine books are sold.

Visiting editors and writers! Please feel free to correct me or add your own comments on this topic below through the comment link.


SUPER DIVA said...

Love your blog Carol–great info, especially for us new comers to book industry! Midwest Book Review is great–they reviewed my book! By the way, see my blog!
Christine, a member of your "How to Write a Book" site!

Tonya said...

It's always nice to get these reminders/tips for things to keep in mind when writing. It really helps a lot.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

We are both members of PublishedAuthors.ning and I was pleased you let your fellows know about your blog. Seems we have a similar audience. I'd love to do some cross promotion.

I blog at Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites pick

Carolyn Howard-Johnson

author 101 said...

Wow, thanks all for your awesome comments!

Peggy Gaffney said...

This is where good editing comes in so that you don't slip back into the "it's all about me" world.

Margot Finke said...

Carol, this is excellent non-fiction beginner advice: especially about beginning too many sentences with "I"

Margot Finke
Books for Children
Manuscript Critiques

Kathryn Magendie said...

Good post ....:) Yes, as you say, there are so many ways to tweak the work so it reads lyrically and/or smoothly!

Sumner Davenport said...

You are a wealth of valuable information. Wanna-be as well as already published authors can learn so much from you. Thank you for your ongoing willingness to share your experience and expertise.
Wishing you awesome and continued success.

Pen Pen said...

I bet "I" do this!! :)