Vampire Verbs and How They Suck the Life Out of Your Writing

Verbs might be the single most important item found in your sentences. The two main classifications for these are Passive and Active. I’m dividing the two up and showing the differences between them. This section will highlight the use of Active verbs, those most important to general writing.

Active Verbs (or Writing In Active Voice):

This is the method we are all encouraged to write with. Passive writing drains your creative flare. It masks the action with words. Passive voice sucks the ferocity of your writing out, leaving nothing except wordy sentences. Writing in an active voice keeps your material simple, sharp and immediate. It paints a clear picture for your reader and keeps them reading actively. There is one simple equation to follow when writing in active voice is:

Subject + Verb + Direct Object

The best teacher is example, below I will post a few sets of sentences. One written in passive voice, one written in active:

Passive:
“The donation was given to the charity by the Jones family.”

Active:
“The Jones family gave the donation.”

Passive:
“The winners were chosen by the judges.”

Active:
“The judges chose the winners.”

Passive:
“The final decision was discussed by the team.”

Active:
“The team discussed the final decision.”

Passive:
“The tests have been reanalyzed by the medical staff.”

Active:
“The medical staff reanalyzed the tests.”

Passive:
“The start button should be pushed down by the next person.”

Active:
“The next person should push down the start button.”

Passive:
“The car was driven by Monica.”

Active:
“Monica drove the car.”

The Passive voice should be avoided, as much as possible, by creative writers. This form is mainly accepted among technical and scientific authors. It adds words and creates needless material which your readers must endure. This can easily prove to be distracting and infuriating if the audience is eager to reach the outcome of the story.

Laura Wright is the author of While I’m Dying and is a freelance writer/photographer for The Business Journal.