Life Coach Magazine

Paint a Picture For the Reader Using Active Writing

By Writerinterrupted @writerinterrupt

Passive voice

I see it all the time. A writer has talent. Real talent for story telling. Story structure comes natural to them, and if they’re voracious readers, than that’s not a surprise. But the biggest problem I see in these talented writers is they don’t know how to paint a picture for the reader using active writing because they write in the passive voice. Passive writing can be good story telling, but active draws your reader into to story world and takes them on that emotional roller coaster ride they’re looking for.

Stephen King agrees that passive writing kills. Okay, not sure he actually said kill, but it seems to fit. Basically, what he says in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, is that passive writing and adverbs are two of the hallmarks of poor writing.

Okay, so we established passive writing is “bad.” So what is passive writing exactly? For me,

the difference between passive and active writing is the difference between reading a story and experiencing is.Powered By the Tweet This Plugin
Paint a Picture For the Reader Using Active Writing
Tweet This Technically the difference is that passive writing uses passive verbs and active writing uses strong verbs. Let’s take a closer look as the example above.

The sentence was written in the active voice by the boy. 

What makes this cartoon funny is that it’s actually written in the passive voice. How can I tell? Take a look at the verb. Was written is passive because it uses a helping verb was.

Now let’s take a look at the next sentence.

The boy wrote in the passive voice.

Did you notice the verb? It’s active. It doesn’t have a helping verb which is passive. But what else is different about the two sentences? Okay, get really for a little grammar lesson.

Active Voice: shows the subject doing the action of the verb

Passive Voice: shows the subject receiving the action

So if you show the subject doing something you have active writing. Simple, right? But there’s another step to active writing.

It’s not enough to have the subject doing the action, but the word you choose to describe that noun and action (verb) should be the best possible descriptive word for the sentence. If you have to use an adjective or adverb, take another look at the noun and verb. Can you make it stronger? Is there another word that could describe the action better. Here’s a few examples:

Passive: It was raining outside
Active: The rain beat down on my window.

Passive: I felt like I was going to die.
Active: My insides ached so much my heart almost gave out.

Passive: I was going to the store.
Active: I ran to the store.

Passive: I was excited when I made the cheerleading squad.
Active: I jumped up and down when I made the cheerleading squad.

Passive: I felt sad
Active: Tears rolled down my cheeks

Can you see the difference?

Below is a list of passive words to look for (use the search and find feature in your document to find the passive words) in your story.

Is, was, be, are, been, felt, watch, saw, (any emotion like sad, happy, etc.) and ING words next to LY words (adverbs). Also do a search for the 5 senses words (taste, touch, feel, heard, saw) and you’ll probably find passive writing.

So what are you waiting for? Go paint a picture for the reader and watch your writing come to life.


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Screen Shot Release the Writer in You Teachable

You have a novel inside of you. A dream to tell your story. But you don’t know where to start? Maybe you don’t even know what to write. Perfect! This course will release the novel in you, guaranteed. As your instructor, I commit to creating an environment where your voice can be released to tell the story only you can. I’ll provide the tools and motivation for you to make your writing dream come true. My guidance will inspire your voice to be released and the lectures will shape your ideas into a cohesive and impactful message. When you commit and do the work, you will release your story within and your book will become reality.

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Paint Picture Reader Using Active Writing
Paint Picture Reader Using Active Writing
Paint Picture Reader Using Active Writing
Paint Picture Reader Using Active Writing
Paint Picture Reader Using Active Writing
Paint Picture Reader Using Active Writing
Paint Picture Reader Using Active Writing

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