Look left.

by slowdancejournal

Put the narrative passages of your fiction through this simple test.

Run your eye down the left margin of your pages and see if your paragraphs open with the same word.

While those opening words in scenes that include dialogue tend to vary, scans of the opening words of paragraphs of narrative will often look like this:

John

John

John

Or:

He

He

He

Or even:

He

John

He 

John

Which isn’t much better.

It is easiest to start a paragraph of narrative with your most important noun, the name of a character, or that proper noun’s more generic stand-in, the pronoun.

Now do the same test moving from sentence to sentence. Each of those sentences might be a humdinger in its own right, but for this exercise do not consider content. Look instead for a pattern you may unwittingly be following when constructing your sentences.

Patterns are comfortable. We like them, but only up to a point.

We also crave variety, not just in content, but in structure.

So, if you routinely reach for the noun when beginning a paragraph or sentence reach into one of the other boxes on your writing desk.

A verb might be nice…