Passive Versus Aggressive

No, this isn’t about personalities; we’ll leave that to the psychological set.
But on second thought, this is about, well, in a way, personality. The personality of your writing.

Today we are confronted with a massive, insidious disease that is killing off massive amounts of potentially good copy.

That, my friend, is passive language. It is the front end of the press release that gives you the symptoms for an early diagnosis. Take the temperature of the writing and you see this: “The local symphony orchestra is planning on holding a concert on Friday.”

That hurts.

The prescriptive cure is simple and doesn’t involve aspirin. “The local orchestra will play on Friday.” Close.

How about “The orchestra is playing Friday.”

I’m feeling better already.

Now to make this simple. Use direct and action oriented words. Instead of “has been” it should be “is” or at the very least, “will be.”

Passive writing is a serious illness of our language. Make your writing stronger by using the present tense. Don’t make news simply old news by dating your release with passive language.

Take two action verbs and call me in the morning.

One thought on “Passive Versus Aggressive

  1. Sometimes simple, concise writing is better than the wordy, sophisticated approach. Jim’s message is one that should be taught far earlier than college but takes a long time to perfect. It comes down to paying attention to detail — as I still develop as a writer I must spend more time re-reading and simplifying where necessary. It makes a world of difference.

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