by Randy Murray on April 21, 2014

“It” is an interesting word for writers. It is also a dangerous word.

When writers point to an object, a thing, there is a strong tendency to attribute human or animal characteristics to the thing. Be careful here. A thing does not think or feel. It does not ponder, worry, or fret. It does not consider.

I am not saying that you must not use metaphor or simile. I am only urging you to do so intentionally and with clear thought on why you’re doing it and what effect you wish to create by doing so.

Today, look around you, select something, anything, but make sure that it is a thing, and write about it. Remember that you, the “I” in this piece, anchors the perspective. And if you do give your selected ‘it’ thoughts and feelings, do so carefully.

My hourglass is on the to shelf of my standing desk, but I’m across the room, sitting at my regular desk. All of the sand is at the bottom of the glass and has been for days. There it is, a rebuke. But I don’t have the energy to stand up, transfer my laptop, keyboard, and track pad over there, turn the glass, and write standing for a while. I should, but I don’t.

So I compromise. I get up, turn the glass, and go back to sit. The glass is silent and I give myself no credit. I haven’t earned it.

“Later,” I tell myself. The glass takes no notice. The sand doesn’t appear to care. I’t drains as easily with me sitting over here as it does with me standing in front of it.

And this note: Please look for all instances of “it’s” and read them aloud as “it is.” If “it is” does not make sense, remove the apostrophe. This common error litters writing. Some find it confusing that the apostrophe does not make the word possessive in this case. It does not. Just say, “it is” to test your sentence. Get it right.

It by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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