This analysis helps you see how often you start sentences in your manuscript with either a pronoun (she, he, it) or a name.
Imagine if every sentence in a novel started the same way:
Joe heard footsteps coming up the stairs. Joe froze. Joe looked around, trying to find a place to hide. Joe heard the footsteps reach the landing and head down the hall toward his room. Joe felt panicked.
How boring would that be?
In the drafting stage, it’s easy to fall into the same patterns—especially when it comes to starting a sentence with a pronoun (he, she, it, they, and so on) or a character name. And that quickly becomes stale and boring. Good writing has variety, a mix of sentence structures that keep prose lively and interesting.
Now that you’re in the editing stage, it’s time to mix it up. Here’s what our example would look like if we revised some of the sentence structures so we weren’t always starting with Joe’s name:
Joe heard footsteps coming up the stairs. He froze, then looked around for a place to hide. The footsteps reached the landing and headed down the hall toward his room. Panic flooded his stomach.
Instantly, we’ve made the writing stronger and more interesting, just by mixing up the sentence structure.
Here’s another example.
John walked to the store. He bought a carton of milk and a frozen pizza. He saw Mary in the checkout line.
John walked to the store to buy a carton of milk and a frozen pizza. The checkouts were crowded, but he spotted his friend Mary in the last line and wheeled his cart over to talk to her.
A funny thing happened when I revised that paragraph: Changing the sentence structure forced me to add more detail. That, plus the variation in the sentence constructions, makes the paragraph much more interesting to read.
And that’s what it’s all about—keeping our writing lively and our readers interested.
Related areas to look for in your manuscript
If AutoCrit shows that you have a tendency to start your sentences with an initial pronoun or name, you may need to take a closer look at your sentence structures throughout your manuscript.
You can check this on your own—or you can get help from AutoCrit. The Sentence Variation Analysis visually represents the length of each sentence in your manuscript. It’s a quick and easy way to “see” the variation and rhythm of your prose.
The bottom line
Pronouns and character names are important—but they don’t always belong at the beginning of a sentence. Mix up your sentence structures to keep your writing fresh.
How to add or remove character names:
Step 1: Click the “Manage Character Names” link found in the right side bar.
Step 2: Type your Character name in the field and click the + to add the character name.