Tips for writers

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Don’t spend time and words warm up your engines

Start with the action

  1. Choose active voice over passive voice.
    1. Passive voice clues:

Verb to be ( am, is, are, was, were, be)

The word by

Past participle (past-tense form of a verb, ie. Stolen, chewed

  1. Give an example:

The writing book that covered punctuation rules was chewed up by the teacher’s pet dog.


Active voice correction: The teacher’s dog chewed up the punctuation rule book.

  1. Use a clear subject to indicate who did what.


  1. Don’t totally get rid of passive voice, you need it if:
    1. You want to focus on the object, not the subject
    2. You don’t care who did what because it’s obvious
    3. You intentionally omit who did it
    4. Average of 5 – 10% passive voice. Know what your publisher expects.

How to find passive voice in an MSWord document:

Go to the “Review” tab on the tool bar above your document

Choose “Spelling & Grammar” Be sure that the box that comes up has “grammar” checked off

In the “text box”, be sure the box in the grammar options “show readability statistics” is checked.


  1. 3. –ing words should send up a flag to you – they are vague

Especially at the beginning of a sentence, ask yourself who is doing the action.


  1. 4. If your sentence is so long that you can’t remember the subject and verb or get lost, then it needs a rewrite.

Shorten sentences by: getting rid of extra adjectives or adverbs

Get rid of direction words – up, down, over, under

Words like and, after, although, if, since, before, because, so though, when, which and who should be used like seasoning on the main course.

Focus on the main idea

  1. Be sure that everything moves the story along. Things that have no reason for happening should be taken out of your story.


Author: diannegsagan

Dianne G. Sagan has written over 25 books and more than 300 articles in her 20 years as a ghostwriter and published her own work traditionally and indie. She writes fiction and nonfiction. She's an experienced speaker at writers' conferences in the region and an experienced facilitator for writers classes and workshops.

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