Put your verbs on a “to be diet”

Writing Tips

Replace all forms of passive verb constructions—”is planning,” “are hoping”—with active verbs—”plan,” “hope.”

Vigorous sentences follow subject-verb-object format. “Passive voice twists sentences out of their normal shape,” says Jack Hart, author of “A Writer’s Coach: The Complete Guide to Writing Strategies That Work.”

The result is a style that is flabby, dull and plodding. Thus, as Hart argues, the lead “The West Hills home of a prominent business executive was destroyed in a fire Monday morning” is stronger and actually more precise when written as “A Monday morning fire destroyed a prominent business executive’s West Hills home. The fire is the subject, the actor, whereas the house is the object, which receives the action.

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