Change This and Make Your Writing Way More Powerful

Change this and make your writing way more powerful

Passive voice leaches power from your blog posts.

When you write with passive voice, your sentences contain words like “were” “are” “is” “had” or “will be.”

A sentence written in passive voice isn’t bad, but it doesn’t live up to its potential.

By including these words, the writer takes the easy way out. He or she doesn’t have to spend time thinking of interesting or specific verbs, or writing in clear and concise language.

It may be a time saver, but it will make your writing less powerful.

Consider these two sentences:

Learning to write well is the most important thing you can do for your blog.

Improve your writing and see your blog gain readership and sparkle with energy.

Do you notice that the second one feels more dynamic and exciting than the first one? That’s because it’s written in active voice instead of passive voice.

When I taught elementary school, our coaches instructed us to have funerals for “dead verbs” with our classes. Our students created coffins for “is” and “was” and buried them on school grounds.

You may be looking at your most recent post and noticing that almost every sentence contains “is” “was” or “were.” But how do you get these nasty, boring verbs out of there? Here are 4 methods to think about.

1. Choose a different verb.

This is possibly the easiest method for removing dead or passive verbs from your writing. Just look at the sentence and think of a better, more specific verb to use.

Examples:

To have a more meaningful life, you need to be aware of what is going on right now.

Want a life infused with meaning and purpose? Notch up your awareness of the present moment.

 

My favorite dish to make in the winter is roast squash.

As soon as December rolls around, I start fantasizing about roast squash.

2. Get rid of “ing”

If you look through your passive sentences, chances are you’ll see quite a few “was”s and “were”s followed by an “ing” verb. Just remove the “ing” and you will have a more active sentence.

Examples:

I was driving my kids to school when I realized we could be walking, instead.

As I drove my kids to school, I realized that we could be walking, instead.

 

Many bloggers are struggling with writing consistently.

Many bloggers struggle to write consistently.

3. Move your adjective before your noun.

Have you ever written a sentence like this? 2014 was a challenging, creative, and growth-filled year.

It is tempting to use a dead verb preceding a list of adjectives, or even just one adjective. Why not write it like this instead:

The challenges of 2014 helped me increase my creativity and grow as a person.

Other examples:

My daughter is an explorer who loves to get into things she shouldn’t be touching.

My curious daughter loves to explore.

 

The sunset this morning was breathtakingly gorgeous.

The gorgeous sunset this morning took my breath away.

4. Change the order of your sentence.

Sometimes, just switching the subject to the beginning of your sentence will get rid of your nasty passive verb.

Examples:

This beautiful necklace was designed by me.

I designed this beautiful necklace.

 

The app that helps me save the most time is Evernote.

Evernote helps me save the most time.

Of course, you will inevitably use passive voice in almost every blog post. But being aware of it will go a long way in helping you shape your writing to be more exciting and powerful.

Take action:

Go over an old blog post, notice the passive verbs, and see if you can change at least a few of them. Then reread your writing. Does it sound more powerful to you? It’s incredible how much this little  hack can improve your writing.

  • Doreen Tapper

    When I was an editor this was one of my pet peeves.

  • I know I get so caught up with a topic that I don’t even really think about sentence structure or shaping how I write sometimes… I needed this. Passing this valuable advice on right now!

  • I feel like I need to find a list of passive words and put it on my wall in front of me. Thank you so much for the inspiration here.