How Do You Write In The First Person Without Using “I”?

Defining The Terms

How Do You Write In The First Person Without Using “I”?

Writing in the first person and not use of “I” can be a bit difficult; however, it’s possible. Here are some ways to accomplish it:

  1. Utilize Your name: Instead of saying “I went to the store,” you could use “John went to the store.” This is a great method of indicating that you’re talking about yourself without using “I.”
  2. Utilize “me” or “my”: Instead of using the phrase “I went to the store,” you could use the words “The store was close, so I walked there” or “My trip to the store was quick.” This lets you speak about yourself with no “I.”
  3. Utilize your second person: It is also possible to use the person of the other and address readers directly. For instance, instead of telling the reader, “I went to the store,” you could write, “You walked to the store, enjoying the warm sunshine.”
  4. Utilize implied subject: Sometimes, you may remove the subject and use the verb instead. In other words, rather than declaring, “I think that’s a great idea,” you could use the phrase, “Thinking that’s a great idea.” This implies that you’re the one who is thinking and not using “I.”

It is important to remember that these techniques may assist you in writing in the third person and not using “I,” but they may not be suitable for all writing styles. You must choose the tone and style most appropriate for your writing and the setting within which it will be read.

What Is The Reason To Reduce The Letter “I”?

It is possible to think that the use of “I” will always bring prose to life and draw the reader closer to the character of the perspective. But, sometimes, the opposite is the case.

Using too many ‘I’m’ in an ear-to-ear tap tells the reader, “Just in case you’ve lost the name of the person who is the narrator, Here are a few reminders.’

In the end, readers are dragged away. This can cause more than a reduction in the length of the narrative.

Why Does “I” Occupies A Prominent Spot In The Center?Pexels Karolina Grabowska 4476367

I admit I am a huge lover of narrations in the first person. If done correctly, the pronoun can be nearly invisible, even if used often. Certain books I’ve borrowed from allow the word ‘I’ to be at the center of the stage.

They don’t depend on a pronoun in the first person to convey emotion, thought, and speech. Below, I’ll give you some examples that assure the quality of the narrative style.

So while we aren’t looking to eliminate “I” because doing so would leave it entirely could make the prose awkward, unauthentic, and excessively ‘I can be monotonous and intrusive. The key is to find the right balanced approach.

This article is designed to give readers options that maintain intimacy and speed if you’re worried you’ve overdone it.

1. Concentrate on the exterior more than the inside.

The story must be told from the narrator’s perspective in first-person narration. Because their presence is a fact, and we’re not always required to remind ourselves that ‘I am present.

A bit of pepper into a more objective and objective report is sufficient since the reader is aware that the report is coming from the Narrator and only the narration. The report must be.

While writers have the space for exploring the character’s emotional behavior, the external environment anchors the characters’ experiences in the physical world of the novel. It gives the novel substance and readers something to chew on.

Instead of looking at who’s responsible for the reporting, focus on the covered content.

Who else is there? What is their purpose? What do they do? What are they like? This information can be presented with no ‘I’ to ensure that the reader can experience the physical world in which the narration is.

2. Reduce the frequency of filter words.

Filter words can indicate that an inner rather than an exterior focus is at play. They’re words that add the narrative’s distance, reminding us that the story we’re reading is written by somebody else rather than seen or experienced through the eyes of the person.

Examples include being noticed, appearing or spotted in the light, realized, felt, wondered, thought or believed in, and then decided.

The filter helps the reader focus their gaze toward the inside (interior concentration) on the method by the character’s perspective of the world.

They have the pronoun: I observed the people believed, we decided, she was aware that he was paying attention.

By removing filter words and filter words, the reader’s focus shifts towards the outside (exterior concentration) and the content being perceived. This can result in an immersive reading. However, it also signifies that we are done with the pronoun they are paired with: “I’.

Here are some illustrations to help you understand what you could do to modify your script in a way that doesn’t use first-person filtering.

“I” and filter word. The reader’s eyes are directed inwards at the way

Recast: The gaze of the reader is drawn outwards toward the what

I remember the debate we had this week.

The argument from last week is fresh in my thoughts.

I recognized the face of the man.

His face looked familiar.

I watched the man turn left and swerve into the alleyway.

The man turned left and sped off into the alleyway.

I saw the red Chevy from yesterday parked in front of the bank.

Outside the bank was the identical red Chevy from yesterday.

Despite all the years, I am still ashamed of the horrible words I spoke out.

The words I hurled at my enemies remain powerful enough to make me feel ashamed despite all the years.

3. Take out speech and thought tags.

Dialogue tags are the ones writers employ to identify the person who is talking. Their purpose is generally mechanical. You can remove dialogue tags if the reader can keep an eye on who’s talking to whom during a conversation.

It is best to ensure that there are just two characters. Most writers don’t prolong the omission to more than a couple of back-and-forths before they add the reminder tag or an action beat.

Checking for tags that aren’t needed is an excellent practice, regardless of the narration style. However, using the first person narration is a great way to get rid of the ‘I’-heavy prose.

Look at this extract taken from the book by David Rosenfelt, Play Dead, pp. 194-5. Two characters are in the sequence: Andy Carpenter, the Narrator and protagonist, and Sam Willis, the non-POV person on the other side of the telephone.

“Great!” he says without attempting to conceal his joy. But, unfortunately, he’s likely hoping it will result in another highway shooting at high speed.

“The female’s name’s Donna Banks. She lives in apartment number 23-G at Sunset Towers in Fort Lee. I don’t know the specific address but I can obtain it.”

“Pretty swanky apartment,” He states.

“Right. I’d like you to figure out what caused the “swank.”

“What does that mean?”

“I need to know how she will pay for it. She’s not employed and is also the widow of the soldier. It’s possibly Banks since her family owns many of the properties, but I’d like to confirm this.”

“Got it.”

“No problem?” I say. I’m always amazed by Sam’s ability to get any information he requires. “Not yet. What else?”

“Yes. I left her house at the time of ten thirty-five this morning. I’d like to find out if she contacted anyone within the hour after my departure, and if she did and who.”

“Gotcha. What do you need me to work on first? While neither of them will take too long.”

“I guess her source of income.”

“Then say it, Andy.”

“Say what?”

“Come and take part in the games. You’re trying to get me to know how she earns her money. Also, say it.”

“Sam …”

“Say it.”

“Okay. Please show me the cash.”

“Thatta boy. I’ll take it up right away.”

The thread contains 19 speech components, yet there are only three speech tags, and only one is a first-person narration.

We never lose focus at any point or get distracted by repeated, “I said.

4. Use the rules that allow free speech indirectly.

If you’ve tried Free indirect speech (also known as free indirect style or discourse) for third-person narratives, use your skill to create narration in the first person.

The free indirect speech format provides the same essence of first-person dialog or thought but with an alternate perspective. The character’s voice is the lead, however, without the distraction of speech marks such as speech tags, italics, or any other device to show the person talking or thinking.

Below is an illustration of a third-person narrative. Note the filter words “glanced” and “noticed,” the ‘tense’ and the present-tense italic thought, as well as the tag for thought:

Dave looked at the man’s hand and noticed that his signature tattoo was not there. So maybe my data has been compromised once more, He considered.

Let’s switch it to first-person narration. The filter words are in the text and there’s also an idea tag that has the pronoun ‘I.

I looked at the man’s hand and noticed that his signature tattoo was not there. Perhaps my information has been compromised, I wondered.

Here’s what the third-person model might look like in a free indirect style. The filters and words are gone. It’s almost like a thought in the first person. However, the tense base and third-person narration remain.

The signature tattoo on the man’s hand was absent. Was it possible that his data had been compromised?

Now, the first-person variant. The only thing I’ve changed is swapping out the pronoun “his” for mine.

The signature tattoo on the man’s hand was not there. Was it possible that my personal information had been compromised?

5. Remove the ‘I’ of the introspection.

It’s fine to contemplate or reflect. Real characters think as real people do.

But, when the prose is scattered rather than packed with words, I was unsure if I wasn’t certain if I was wondering if it might feel disorganized and difficult to read. The reader may be able to respond: Of course, you’re thinking. Who else is it? You’re the one who tells the story.

The worst part is that readers may think the narration is self-centered and unconfident. Although this might be a good thing at times, it’s not a good idea if it’s a regular feature, because a person who’s constantly in their head and doesn’t inspire confidence into us isn’t able to tell the story either.

Be on the lookout for ‘I’-centered reflection and try out questions and statements which allow the word “I” to be assumed.

6. We balance ‘I’ and ‘we.’

An alternative is to consider the possibility that other characters share your character’s life experiences at specific points in the story.

This is a chance to frame the story around the word ‘we’ rather than only I.

Here’s a passage taken from To Kill a Mockingbird (p. 162) in which Scout Harper Lee’s first-person narration frames the story about her memories and those she was having fun with.

As the county passed through us, Jem told Dill the history and general views of the more famous figures: The M4 Tensaw Jones was the only person to vote straight Prohibition ticket, as did Ms. Emily Davis dipped snuff in private. At the same time, Ms. Byron Waller could play the violin, and Mr. Jake Slade was cutting his third set of teeth.

A large group of uncharacteristically stern-faced citizens showed up. As they pointed at Miss Maudie Atkinson’s garden, which was ablaze with flowers in the summer and flowers, Miss Maudie herself stepped out onto the porch. There was something peculiar about Miss Maudie sitting on her porch, she was far enough away from us to see her face. However, we could always discern her mood through her posture. The woman was standing, arms raised with her shoulders slumping slightly and her head tilted to the direction, and glasses gleaming in the sun.

The impact is profound because we are being told of her feeling part of a group, of being part of a community, and of the unity of this experience. This increases our immersion into her world.


Why might you want to avoid writing with “I”?

To avoid drawing attention to yourself as the writer or to establish a tone that is more objective or formal, you might want to avoid using the word “I” in your writing.

When writing in the first person, what other words could be used in place of “I”?

When writing in the first person, “me,” “myself,” “we,” “us,” and “our” can be used in place of “I.”

When is it appropriate to substitute “I” for “we” or “us”?

When you are writing in the first person but also want to include other people or groups in your writing, it may be appropriate to use “we” or “us” rather than “I.” You might, for instance, use the word “we” to refer to a group or team you are a part of.

How can you avoid using the word “I” in descriptive language?

You can use descriptive language to express your thoughts and actions rather than using the word “I.” You could, for instance, say “The journey to the store took longer than expected” rather than “I walked to the store.”

Can you avoid using “I” by using passive voice?

You can avoid using “I” by using passive voice, but this is generally not recommended because it can result in a sentence that is longer and less clear. You could, for instance, say “The project was completed by me” rather than “I completed the project.”

How can you avoid using the word “I” in your sentences?

By beginning your sentences with a descriptive phrase or action, you can structure them to avoid using the word “I.” You could, for instance, say, “The sun shining through the window makes me feel happy,” as opposed to “I feel happy.”