A friend told me the other day that he keeps getting in trouble at work for writing his reports in the passive voice. Granted, no one expects him to be a professional writer, but that hasn't stopped his boss from pleading with him to start writing in the active voice.
My reaction when he told me was, "Good for your boss!"
Everyone should know the difference between active and passive voice.
With active voice, the subject in the sentence acts upon its verb. With passive voice, the subject receives the action of the verb. Active voice is simpler, easier to read, and helps materially strengthen your writing. Passive voice is unclear and leads to clunky writing.
Here are a few examples:
Passive voice: My bike was stolen by that guy.
Active voice: That guy stole my bike.
Passive voice: The money was counted by the cashier.
Active voice: The cashier counted the money.
Passive voice: The book was written by me.
Active voice: I wrote the book.
OK, so these are really easy examples. But you can see how much better it is to write in the active voice. As I said in my book, Write Like You Mean It: Mastering Your Passion For The Written Word, passive voice dilutes the action in whatever you're writing. Readers appreciate active voice more because each sentence is stronger and more impactful. They can read with ease, and they can feel the emotion in your writing.
Here's a quick book excerpt to help drive the point home.
I fully subscribe to the belief that if you focus on good, clean writing at its basic level – perfect grammar; an active, powerful voice; a varied sentence structure and word choice – the story you're trying to tell falls into place. You eliminate all the riffraff that bogs down your writing and makes your message harder to relay to the reader. Conversely, the reader finds your writing easy and enjoyable to read. They can't wait to flip to the next page. Their focus is only on the information they're reading about.
I'm not God's gift to writing, but I've learned a thing or two over the years, and my message to other writers is this: Focus on the basic mechanics of writing, including active voice. It usually leads to much better writing. Your readers deserve it – and so do you.
Write like you mean it!
How can you get your hands on Write Like You Mean It?
This book is for writers of all experience levels, genres, and professional pursuits. Whether you’re a journalist, college writer, aspiring freelancer, or future novelist, this book is for you, so you too can Write Like You Mean It!
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Thank you for reading!
*STEVE GAMEL is the President & Owner of Edit This, a writing and editing services company located in Denton, TX, and the author of Write Like You Mean It: Mastering Your Passion For The Written Word. Steve handles anything involving the written word. Give him a call today to help give your business a clear voice.
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