When used as a pronoun, the utilitarian word “there” becomes an insidiously easy way for writers to get their point across. “There” gets the job done, no doubt about it. But using “there” at the beginning of sentences and phrases is the lazy way out. Whenever you see the word “there” used as a pronoun, you can be sure it’s being used as a crutch to hold up a weak and passive sentence. Let’s look at a few examples:
- There was a large wart on the scary old lady’s chin.
- When Jackson looked across the room, he was shocked to see there were several policeman talking with his boss.
- When in doubt, remember there is always more than one way to write a sentence.
- A large wart sprouted hair on the scary old lady’s chin.
- When Jackson looked across the room, he froze. Several policeman stood talking with his boss.
- When in doubt, remember you can always find more than one way to write a sentence.
“There” needn’t be expunged every time it crops up in your writing. Sometimes the word flow or the voice of your narrating character may work better with a few “theres” scattered in your prose. But be aware of the downfalls. Every time you find yourself typing “there” as a pronoun, reconsider your sentence. Would your scene offer more vibrancy, if you reworked the sentence with more active verbs?
Tell me your opinion: Had you previously considered that "there" contributes to a weak writing style?
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Story by K.M. Weiland