Active vs. Passive Voice–What We Discovered at Our W.I.S.E. Coffee, February 24th., 2015

Don’t use passive voice…
Passive vs. active voice is always good to review. At our last Day Meeting, I shared a blog post by Grammar Girl (Mignon Fogarty) about that very subject.

Active voice is when you have a subject, a verb, then an object in a sentence. “Jerry kicked the can.”

Passive voice puts the object in the subject’s position in the sentence. It fools the brain into thinking that the object is really the subject.

Passive voice is considered weaker than active voice and is often confusing. “The can was kicked by Jerry.” 

“The can was kicked by Jerry,” puts the object, the can, in the subject’s position in the sentence. It takes the brain a nanosecond or two to process that it was Jerry who kicked that can. 

This means that passive voice is harder for the brain to process, and if you have too much of it, you will frustrate the reader.  Give the reader a break! Cut out passive voice unless you have a good reason to use it.

…unless you have a good reason
What are good reasons to use passive voice, you ask?

Well, Grammar Girl discusses it’s use in literary novels. It still isn’t a good idea to overuse passive voice, but a nice sprinkling of it throughout can take a manuscript from plain to fancy. “Theresa was loved by Jonathan, everyone knew. And the entire town was moved by it: moved enough to save the tree they died under on that terrible night.”

Okay, that was sappy–and really, really sad–but you get the idea. People read literary novels for the moving characters and the pretty words. They actually like a slow build in plot and love to chew on prose. Literary novelists are often called “wordsmiths” because their goal is not only to tell a story, but to do so with the most well-crafted words possible.

Passive voice, when used judiciously, inspires.

But remember to only season your writing. Dumping bucketsful of passive voice into your prose can make people sick. Just saying.

And speaking of inspiring…
Grammar Girl doesn’t mention this, but I’ve noticed that BIG speeches–speeches given to Congress, on the steps of the Capitol Building, and on battlefields–are also sprinkled with passive voice.

Why? It’s the same reason writers use it in literary novels–it sounds lofty. Lofty, in turn, inspires. It also effectively makes an impact in people’s minds. It says, “momentous.”

“Battles were fought, lives were lost, but freedoms were won.” See, no real subject, but a nice, lofty, parallel sentence that inspires–passively. (In active voice, this sentence would read “Men fought the battles, people lost their lives, but we won our freedoms.”)

Passive voice slows your writing
This can be good or bad. Do you want to write a slow passage that, perhaps, causes tension? Well, try adding some passive voice. I’ve seen this technique work well.

Again I caution you. Don’t be lazy. Don’t use passive voice like a drunken sailor on leave.

Unless you have a really good reason to go passive, use active voice.

Here is the link to the original Grammar Girl post.

We also talked about style manuals, but I’ll cover that subject on another post.

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Member Accomplishments, February 2015

This month, February, Krystal Marusin shared that part of her wedding poem was published in 101 Secrets to a Happy Marriage: Real Couples Share the Keys to Their Success. Thomas Nelson publishes this sweet book on advice for a happy marriage.

As we discussed at the last two meetings, anthologies are a strongly viable way to get published, and you can have book signings and boldly call it “my book.” If you have been frustrated in  your publishing path so far, you might try looking in a Writers Market and aiming at a few anthologies. They’re gold!

AND…Zachary Totah announced on Facebook that he started his blog in February! Congratulations Zac! Here is the link.

If you are a member and want me to add you to this post, email WFTJ (Ernie) and give me the particulars of your big accomplishment.

For a refresher on how we define “member,” see this post How Do You Define “Member” of Words for the Journey.

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Writers on the Rock Conference, February 28th, 2015

I was reminded by a WFTJ member that this conference is coming up this weekend!
For all the details and to register, click here.

Join more than 100 other Front Range Writers for the Writers on the Rock: Conference 2015.

Our theme is “Words Matter.” Whether you write for publication,or simply write letters to your children, your gift is something that needs to be fostered, improved, and encouraged.
If you are a writer motivated by faith, this conference is for you. More than a dozen seminars taught by writers just like you will help with the nuts and bolts of your gift:

* Nurturing the Writer’s Heart
* The Finances of Writing
* Self Publishing
* Self Editing
* How to Integrate Speaking and Writing
* Why an Agent is Right for You
* Interviews That Matter
* The Poet’s Heart
* Market Yourself
* Find the Right Publisher
…. and much more.

The price starts at just $39 and includes lunch. ($55 procrastination rate.)
Whether you have dozens of published works or have never shown your writing to another soul, you’ll find something for you.
Feb 28, 2015. Lakewood, CO.

Posted in Conference

Power Words (Hot Words)–What We Discovered at Our W.I.S.E. Coffee, February 10th

At our last W.I.S.E Coffee, we talked about two blog posts, one being How to Craft Post Titles that Draw Readers Into Your Blog.

The article has eight great tips, but we focused a little bit longer on #6 “Use Power Words.”

“Power Words,” a.k.a. “Hot Words,” are words that motivate readers to act. They bring pizzazz to your titles and cause the reader to want to read your post.

Hot words are rarely used in the body of the post. They are sensational and will make your post sound rather cheesy. BUT, as title words, they are powerful!

Here is MY LIST of  Power Words (a.k.a. Hot Words). The words in all caps are not original to the list, which I got from a blog post. They are words I’ve added from other sources over time:

Absolutely, amazing, approved, attractive, authentic, bargain, BECAUSE, better, big, breakthrough, cash, colossal, complete, confidential, crammed, delivered, direct, discount, discover, discovery, easy, excellent, exciting, exclusive, expert, famous, fascinating, fortune, free, genuine, gift, gigantic, greatest, GROW, guaranteed, helpful, huge, immediately, improved, incredible, informative, instructional, INSTANTLY, interesting, largest, latest, limited, love, lowest, magic, miracle, money, new, noted, odd, OPPORTUNITY, outstanding, personalized, popular, power, powerful, practical, private, professional, profit, profitable, proven, quality, QUICK, rare, reduced, refundable, remarkable, reliable, results, revealed, revolutionary, scarce, scientific, secrets, security, select, sensational, simplified, sizable, SIZZLE, SOAR, special, startling, STOP, strange, strong, STUNNING, sturdy, successful, superior, surprise, TANTALIZING, terrific, tested, tremendous, TRICK, ultimate, unconditional, unique, UNCOVERED, unlimited, useful, valuable, WARNING, wealth, WEIRD, WHY, you.

If you want to get better at writing titles for your blog posts, keep this list and add to it as you come across other Power Words. They will make a big difference in the ability of your posts to pull in readers.

To see the original post, which has seven more pointers, click here.

You may also be interested in this YouTube, Writing Advertising Headlines Using Thesaurus and Hot Words, which teaches  how to figure out Power Words by using a Thesaurus. Good stuff!

This is the link to the post where I got the original Hot Words List, which also has power phrases.

Posted in Writing Instruction | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Broadmoor Restaurants–Ooh La La!

Okay everybody, here we go!

On July 29th, 2014, we will meet in the hotel lobby and patio of the Broadmoor Hotel at approximately 9:30 a.m. Bring your laptops or a notebook because this is a Write Out!

Around noon/12:30 pm., we will break for lunch. Traditionally, we have all gone to the Golden Bee together. This year, we are trying something new. I am giving you the link below so you can scout out where you want to go. You guys can coordinate with each other and make your plans now or on Tuesday.

Some of these restaurants are a bit pricey, but the website gives the price range so you can make your decision from there. The Golden Bee has always been moderately priced and I noticed that a couple others have a low bottom price if you choose.

The List is here on the Broadmoor site.

Here’s a map of where the restaurants and eateries are located (note, there are more than are on the above list).

I plan to eat at La Taverne which specializes in steak. That’s not why I’m going there though–I’m lazy and it’s right there in the lobby. :D Anyone is welcome to come with me. The food looks delicious!

If this is your first time with us and you show up not knowing what we look like, just roam around the lobby or patio yelling “WORDS FOR THE JOURNEY” at the top of your lungs. We’ll think you are crazy and know immediately you are part of our WFTJ family.

In addition to these restaurants, I’ve been told the bar in the lobby/patio area serves lunch and some say they bring it to your patio table. Hmmm… AND, some remember eating at a little sandwich deli that is right over the bridge.

So peruse the list and map, plan with your peeps now or when we all get there. Remember, you all are welcome to go with me at La Taverne. This is going to be a blast!


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How Do You Define “Member” of Words for the Journey?

Since we restructured Words for the Journey, there are questions about how I as director now define membership.

Originally, a member was someone who paid yearly dues. Starting in January 2014, dues are dead. We meet at Starbucks and everything is free (except the coffee.) Right now, during this transitional time, you pay for nothing.

So…what is a member? Well, the answer is people who attend!

As director, I like this better because the other way, too many paid their money and then we never saw them! To have a cohesive group, people have to come and participate, and in so doing, both the group and the member benefit.

Before you start thinking what a demanding little director I am, let me tell you how many times a year you must attend before we consider you a “member” of WFTJ. And here it is, drum roll please, the criteria for being considered a member of WFTJ:

In order to be considered a member of WFTJ, you must attend ONCE EVERY SIX MONTHS.

Yep, that’s it. Just once every six months!

And if you attend once every six months, I can put your event on this website (things like book signings and speaking engagements, anything writing or platform related), I will post your blog link and name, you will get a member directory, and you can post your blog article links on our Facebook “Words for the Journey SHARE” Group Page.

When the webinars start, those of you who are not local can attend, and participating (just showing up) in a live webinar will get you marked as “attended.”

The webinars, however, aren’t free, so if you’re far away from us, you’ll have to pay for attendance. But those of you who are local will have the option to attend free or pay or a combo of those two. Yay!

Okay, now that I’ve explained it, any questions?

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Member Accomplishments June 2014

Here are several members who’ve recently moved ahead in their writing journey:

Member Kim Stewart started a new blog called Wholly Words. Go check it out!

Carrie O’Toole, life coach extraordinaire, published a book this month called Relinquished: When Love Means Letting Go. It has an average of 4.5 stars!

Big names are endorsing Bonnie Doran’s recent release Dark Biology.

If I’ve forgotten anybody, email me at “Ernie,” I’ll put you in our next Member Accomplishment post!*

*(A “member” is anyone who has attended in the last six months.)

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