A teeny tiny change that can take your writing from boring to scintillating
The other day, deep in the process of writing my second book, I was re-reading one of my chapters and from the very first line, I was struck by how I’d actually withheld the power in the story, resulting in a major TURN OFF for my readers, because of a very simple (and oh so common) pronoun problem.
I’m glad I caught it in time and thought I’d share it with you so you can check your own writing. Wanna know what that was?
I’d “we-ified” my story.
What does that mean?
When sharing experiences, lessons, wisdom, I want others to get something from it – and I’m sure you do too. I want as many people as possible to recognise themselves, and relate to what I’m sharing.
With that in mind, I often tend to generalize my experience using “we”, thinking that by using this collective pronoun, I’m casting the net wider for more people to relate to the story.
But as I read that first paragraph the other day, I realised I’d done just the opposite!
Have a look for yourself – the paragraph read:
“The reason why we put up with so much crap in our lives is because we don’t feel strong enough to stand up for ourselves. And the reason why we don’t feel strong enough is because we don’t have our team set up to have our own back. We think that in order for our back to be covered, ie. for someone to have our back, we need to do or say things within a certain range.”
This is the opening paragraph of a chapter – can you feel how bland that is?
Yes? No? Keep reading…
How about if I change that “we” to the more personal, “I”?
Check this out:
“The reason why I put up with so much crap in my life is because I didn’t feel strong enough to stand up for myself. And the reason I didn’t feel strong enough is because I didn’t have my team set up to have my own back. I thought that in order for my back to be covered, ie. for someone to have my back, I needed to do or say things within a certain range.”
Can you see how this makes you want to know more? How your mind instantly goes:
What crap did she put up with? And why didn’t she feel strong enough? Who had her back? How did she limit what she said or did?
You’re wondering…aren’t you?
Telling your story AS YOUR STORY invites the reader to want to know more, as opposed to that bland, preachy way of teaching that often comes with “we”. Own your experience, and claim it as your own.
I know your intentions are good – my intentions were good as well when I wrote that paragraph in that collective “we”.
But it turns out people resonate with what I’m sharing when I share MY story – not bland all-encompassing fortune cookie-esque statements.
So, this is me, proposing a shift: a teeny tiny change in the pronouns used can make a huge difference and take your writing from boring to scintillating.
Whether you’re an oral storyteller, a writer, or otherwise, reclaim the power of “I”, and stop hiding behind the generic “we”.
Next time you sit down to share, ask yourself: Instead of generalizing – how can I actually speak for myself?
Magic moments of connection and truth follow closely. Promise. 🙂
Try it out and let me know how it goes!
If you’re a writer (aspiring or otherwise) and would love to take your message to the next level, write a book, publish a finished draft that’s been sitting in your virtual drawer, launch a new title or increase the sales of an existing one, I can help you do just that! Check out my website or book a call and let’s see if we’re a good fit!