Three top writing tips to captivate a reader

While reviewing a blog I ran across at the Self-Publishing School site, I realized their points covered some of the main techniques I teach in my writing workshops to overcome these issues. Study the few tips below, and you’ll be amazed at how your words jump off the page!

  • Avoid passive voice, use active voice instead
    • Passive voice often uses inactive verbs followed by words ending in “-ed”
      or “-ing”
      • Passive voice = is cheering, are praying, have binged
      • Active voice = cheer, prays, binged
    • In active voice, you start your sentences with the subject and use an active verb to describe what the subject does. 
  • Don’t use weak verbs, use active verbs instead
    • Inactive/”to be” verbs = is, was, has, have, be, been
    • Active verbs create a mental picture: cheers, pray, binged, stumble, stared
  • Why use emotion explaining, when you can simply show physical reactions? 
    • Climb into a character’s skin and experience what they taste, feel, hear, smell, and do.
    • Beauty is in the details… describe how someone’s hands shake and lips quiver when they tremble in “fear.”

Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan, Book Shepherd
Write • Edit • Publish • Word-of-mouth strategy

P.S. Learn more about my novels on my Amazon Author Central page.

#1 Writing tip: Passive vs. active voice

Ann Videan at Souvia Tea

Passive:
For her Coffee CommuniTea (CCT) blog, Ann had visited the Souvia Tea Shop and had found this perfect tea-shirt.
Active:
Ann explored the Souvia Tea Shop for her Coffee CommuniTea blog and discovered this perfect tea-shirt.
(Visit Ann’s CCT watering hole reviews at https://anvidean.com/coffee-communitea/.)

My main pet peeve when editing involves the overuse of passive voice. I don’t mean past tense, where you’re describing things that happened before. But passive voice, which uses far too many “to be” verbs and far too few active verbs.

Passive verbs = is leaping, are creating, have experienced, was learning, were thinking, have been choosing.

Active verbs = leaps, create, experienced, learned, thought, chose.

Your goal? Communicate your message in the most compelling, concise manner to intrigue customers and get them talking, right? Here’s how…

Your message jumps off the page when you use active voice. Plus, you shorten the length of your writing by one-third. (This most valuable tip takes into consideration the on-screen scanning that people – myself included – use as an excuse  for reading these days.)

Active voice takes  practice, but simply watch for “to be” verbs followed by words ending in “-ed” or “-ing” and replace them with active verbs. Example:
Passive: The voice was mesmerizing to the student.
Active: The voice mesmerized the student.

Also, try to start your sentences with the subject and use an active verb to describe what the subject does. Example:
Passive: The young girl was overwhelmed by the depths of the woman’s presence.
Active: The woman’s deep presence overwhelmed the young girl.

Employ these two tips alone and just watch your writing become much more effective!

Tell me about your main editing pet peeve.