Friday, December 9, 2011

The "I" Pitfall of First Person

During the process of editing Barely There I started to notice a trend. I have these words that continually pop up. Big time! Trying to fix them I came upon an even bigger issue. "I"

I like to write in first person, so naturally my character says "I" a lot. In fact, too much. I sat down with a chapter and circled every instance of "I." Guess how many I found.


Seriously! That's insane! That comes to an average of a little more than 21 per page out of the six page chapter.

Through the process of editing I dwindled that number down to ... 90. I'll admit, I might have been able to cut it down more, but at the moment that was all I could bring myself to cut. Another round should drop it even more. 

And, no, that was not easy! Not by a long shot. In fact here's a little secret. I did a major revision of that chapter before I counted the 124 I's. Before that there had been 6-1/2 pages and 121 I's. So, in my "big revision" I created more of a problem with the I Pitfall. Now when I make my notes on the draft I have decided to circle every single "I" with a green highlighter. Then as I make those big revisions, the I's can dwindle.

This, of course, prompted me to look at the first two chapters that I had already edited, but not for the I's. I cut 34 I's in chapter 1 and 33 from chapter 2.

Cutting the I's wasn't the only thing that happened. Nope, in the process of cutting the I's out, I tightened up my wording a whole lot. This made me extremely happy. From now on I will search for the I's when I think I am completely done editing. Surely, there will be more to be done.

Your Turn -> Have you found yourself falling into the I Pitfall if you write in first person?


  1. I actually never thought about too many I's, which probably means I have too many (I just counted and have about fifteen in one double spaced page). Thanks for pointing this out. I hope I can figure out some way to pare it down!

  2. It would be interesting to see some examples of how you revised to avoid using "I".

  3. JE -> If I had not seen the post I linked to I never word have thought about them at all. Talk about an eye opener for me.

    Linda -> I'm working out a post for Wednesday right now that will show some examples of how I edited them out. It's hard, though, without giving things away about the story. lol

    FYI: Sorry for the delayed response. I managed to hurt my back over the weekend and have not turned on my computer until now. The blogger app for my iPhone also does NOT allow me to see or make comments.