I, me, my, she, he, they, them. Not always needed in all cases. Too many of these strung together make readers’ eyes cross…especially “I”. In first person narratives it appears so many times it’s like somebody took a machine gun and splattered the page.

To help with pronoun fatigue I/she/he/they followed by had/will/would/could may be swapped for contractions in many places, thus changing the pacing of the readers’ experience. As an example: “I will” can oftentimes become “I’ll” and move the action right along. Most people use contractions when speaking, so especially in dialogue the less formal contraction reads warmer whereas the more formal version of the two words reads stilted.

Try reading your writing aloud when swapping the phrase and contraction and you’ll see whether the contraction or the phrase is best for what you want to impart. For instance, let’s say your character says this to another character. Which sounds more immediate and dangerous?

Jeff laughed in John’s face. “Oh, yeah? I double-dog dare ya to do something about it.”

“I will kill you,” John said, pointing his pistol.

“I’ll kill you,” John said, pointing his pistol. Can you feel the difference in the emotional intent contractions can bring?

Click here for Two: That, Just, Would, Could, Had, Said