Passive Voice: The Enemy of Compelling
Happy New Year! To begin 2012, I’m tackling a topic your high school English teacher probably covered…but that might have been the last time you thought about it. You may not know what passive voice is, but the odds are pretty goodthat Microsoft Word has informed you when you’ve used it. (I’m not even immune from that squiggly green line!)
The simplest explanation of passive voice is that the target of an action–rather than the initiator–is placed in the subject position. Here’s an example:
Passive: You’d think a cervical cancer-preventing vaccine would be embraced by the medical community and women everywhere.
Active: You’d think the medical community and women everywhere would embrace a cervical cancer-preventing vaccine.
The difference is subtle, but writing in active voice can positively affect the reactions of your readers. It adds pizazz.
On a related note, it’s all too easy to bury the subject of a sentence at the end, as in this example:
What hooks readers and keeps them coming back is interesting content.
A more compelling alternative is:
Interesting content is what hooks readers and keeps them coming back.
Remember that it’s not always what you say, but how you say it. As a business writer, since your focus is typically to get readers to act, you want to make sure you’re presenting the message in a way that encourages them to do so.
I need your help; my pipeline is rather lean. Do you know businesses that could benefit from my writing or editing expertise? I’ll treat your referrals like gold.
adriennemoch.com • firstname.lastname@example.org • 619-291-4645