Purple Prose + Writing

Get active!

Now I’m not talking about going skiing or running or anything other activity that gets you moving. I’m referring to giving your verbs a workout.

There are two types of verbs for the intent of this discussion: passive and active. Passive verbs include verbs such as to be. Bonnie Trenga also throws the following verbs into the pile: to do, to get, to go, to have, to make, and to use. Action verbs, on the other hand, are more action packed—hence their name. Passive verbs are boring. Action verbs aren’t.

I went over to the mall entrance. (passive)
I zigzagged between harried shoppers on my way to the mall entrance. (active)

Notice which one paints a more vivid picture. Don’t get me wrong though, there are times when passive verbs are okay, but the idea is switch to an active verb when at all possible.

Next time you write a paper, take your highlighter and mark all those passive verbs, then see which ones you can make more exciting. Your teacher (and grade) will thank you.

Suggested Reading:
Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose by Constance Hale
The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier: How to Solve the Mysteries of Weak Writing by Bonnie Trenga

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Get active! + Writing