Use Active Voice, Not
Today's Snack: Let's make Bagel Faces! Gather together a bagel, cut
in half, and soften an ounce or two of cream cheese. Spread the cream cheese on
the bagel halves. Depending on what veggies are in your fridge, you can use
them to decorate your "face." Use sliced black olives for the eyes, a
half-circle slice of cucumber plunged into the cream cheese so that it sticks
up and out for the nose, and a thin slice of red bell pepper for the smiling
mouth. Grated carrot makes funny hair, and toasted sunflower seeds make funny
freckles. You might also make red cheeks with a cherry tomato sliced in half.
Barbells or weights
Lined writing paper
and No. 2 pencil
off by lifting weights and experiencing your own strength.
your ideas weak? Are you a wussie? Do you lack confidence and energy, and
therefore nobody should pay any attention to you?
then, why do you write that way?
A common writing error is to write in a passive voice,
rather than an active one. Passive writing is weak, indirect, ambiguous and
wordy, while active writing is strong, vigorous, bold and concise.
Here's a comparison. Which is better?
"There is a whole lot of snow kind of covering
"Snow blanketed the ground."
about these two. Which is better?
"He liked the painting which was done
"He liked my painting."
how about these:
"The whistle of a train could be heard
"We heard a train whistle."
See how the active phrases - the second ones - are more
direct, shorter and clearer?
Cure yourself of the habit of starting sentences with
"There is" or "There are." That's a red flag of wordiness and passivity.
the verb forms of "is" because they're just too passive and bland.
watch out for expressions with the word "by," as in "It was left by me" instead
of "I left it." If you notice that you've written something in the past tense,
and it includes the word "by," then you're probably in passive mode. Get out of
it! Be active!
Last, watch yourself for wordiness; learn to cut to the
"The next thing we knew, our mistake became apparent, and the reason was, we
had not done what we should have done." Instead, write: "We goofed."
number from 1 to 5 on your paper, leaving several lines free, and write a
sentence that is totally wordy and passive . . . and then rewrite it in a
healthy, active style.
four more times, so that you end up with five weak, sissy sentences . . . and
five that are much stronger and better.