Reoccurring Nightmare

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When I encountered some of the grammar points in this chapter, I started having flashbacks to EL137, News Writing, because some of the same points stressed here were also stressed there...and they're the same points I'm still struggling to incorporate into my own writing.

First, the biggie...using active voice.  Although I think I improved after my practice with active voice in news writing, I know I still slip back into passive voice on a very regular basis.  Unless I am consciously thinking about structuring my sentences in active voice, I will most likely use passive voice.  I'm not even sure how I picked that habit up.  It's certainly not a skill I would have been actively taught, is it?  So for now, using active voice in my webwriting will have to be something that is painstakingly worked at during the revision process.  After all, as Kilian says, writing in passive voice makes you sound like a stuffed shirt, and "if you write your webtext [in passive voice], your readers will think you really are a stuffed shirt - or at best a dull and wordy writer." 

The other tip in this chapter that seemed all too familiar was number 5, which advised writers to "choose strong verbs over weak ones."  As with my use of passive voice, I have a natural tendency to extend strong verbs in to weak, flimsy phrases.  I think these two habits are linked; I like to stretch out my sentences into the passive voice just like I like to stretch out my verbs into weak phrases.  I guess I'll just have to work on these skills long enough so they become second nature.  Unfortunately, this is easier said than done! 

 

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2 Comments

Jed Fetterman said:

I would not be too worried about using the passive voice as long as you can catch it when you edit your work. I also think that the more writing you do, the better your writing becomes. Ask someone for help, too. Someone's job has to be picking apart all of the passive sentences, so your job would be to find that person.

Jackie Johns said:

You're right, Jed. If I get completely confused by this stuff, I'll have to find some help. I tried the exercise on active and passive sentences in the text and I did pretty well...I think this skill is something that just takes a lot of editing practice. I may understand the idea behind it, but perfecting the active voice means revising lots and lots...and lots of sentences.

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