Don’t spend time and words warm up your engines
Start with the action
- Choose active voice over passive voice.
- 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
- 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.
- Use a clear subject to indicate who did what.
- Don’t totally get rid of passive voice, you need it if:
- You want to focus on the object, not the subject
- You don’t care who did what because it’s obvious
- You intentionally omit who did it
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Be sure that everything moves the story along. Things that have no reason for happening should be taken out of your story.