Thursday, 3 April 2014

Interesting Sentence Openers: How to Avoid Pronouns at Beginning of Sentences

Making writing flow entails finding new ways of beginning sentences. A piece of writing comprising sentences that begin in the same way soon becomes repetitive. There are more ways to begin a sentence than pronouns and character names. So, how else can the author begin a sentence, and by the way, what is a pronoun?

Beginning Sentences with Pronouns and Character Names

There is more than one way of beginning a sentence than with a person’s name or its pronoun. A pronoun by the way is the equivalent for a noun. Pronouns include: he, she, it, they, them. A pronoun to be particularly beware of is ‘it’. Too many ‘its’ will dilute the feeling of the writing and sounds weak. Take a look at the piece of writing to see how repeatedly beginning sentences in this way can soon take the life out of the story.

Boring Ways to Begin Sentences in Stories

“Vince turned to the coat hanger. He scooped up his coat and placed it over his shoulders. He gazed soberly ahead. Nancy stifled an urge to snigger. It was difficult not to. She would treasure the image of seeing this celebrity taking himself so seriously. She kept her mouth still for when he turned. He did so and walked past her, scuffing his shoulders against her on leaving. She followed him out.”

See how wooden this excerpt reads? This is because each sentence begins with either a character’s name, or the pronoun alternative: i.e., Vince, Nancy, he, she or it. To take the rot out of this, try beginning sentences with another word rather than character’s names or pronoun equivalent. For example, a sentence could begin with another noun or even verb within that sentence, such as coat hanger, celebrity or snigger, for example.

Writing Tips on Sentence Starters

“The coat hanger rocked as Vince snatched his coat from the hook. He placed his coat over his shoulders. A snigger surged up Nancy’s throat. This celebrity sure took himself seriously. She kept her mouth still for when he turned. With a scuff of the shoulder against hers, he slid past. She followed him out.”

The excerpt reads better and I got rid of the ‘it’ pronoun. However, there are still more ways of beginning a sentence other than nouns and pronouns. Consider certain connectives (however, when, still, or), adjectives (describes nouns) or adverbs (describes verbs) prepositions (before, after, under, over) or interjections (ugh, hi, oh, hmm). Consider the following alternatives for beginning sentences:

Without warning he darted for the gate…
As though by script…
Never had she seen him react like this…
The set of his mouth told her…
Quickly, she ran for the door…
And yet the car did not start…
Movement drew her attention…
Such an ordinary looking doorway…
Beneath the table, she found a note…
Ugh, she thought. That sounds horrible.

I was careful how I opened sentences in my blog novel,Nora. Notice how I opened sentences in various ways as well as by using character names and their pronouns. Similarly, Nancy watches A-list celebrity, Vince dress for a photo shoot. Here, his PA Leon assists.

Great Sentence Openers for Novel Writing

Beware of sentences opening in the same way in paragraphs. This could create a repetitive feel to the sentence structure in novels. A common culprit is opening sentences with a character name or pronoun equivalent. The pronoun ‘it’ is also to be aware of. Try moving the sentence structure around, such as shifting the latter clause to the beginning or using another noun for the opener other than the person’s name. Consider using other words other than nouns and pronouns for the sentence opener, such as connectives, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions and interjections.

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