The Write Stuff
January 2012 Volume 8 Issue 1
Passive Voice: The Enemy of Compelling
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.
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