SATW: 60 Second Travel Writer #12 – Passive Voice

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catharine hamm 1Active voice makes for vibrant prose.

Here’s a 60-Second Travel Writer Tip from LA Times Travel Editor Catharine Hamm.

When we write, “The lumberjack chopped down the tree” or “Serena Williams crushed the shot over the net,” you can picture the action. But sometimes, we paint word pictures in the passive voice. That means that what should be the strong subject of the sentence becomes the object of the action. In the lumberjack example, the sentence becomes “The tree was chopped down by the lumberjack.” Not as strong.

Passive voice can be a useful tool. You might say, “The window was left open.” – if you don’t want to accuse someone or start a fight (or, if you’re writing a murder mystery and you don’t want to reveal a spoiler).

If you’re not sure whether passive voice works, try the sentence both ways. The right choice will be made by you. Or, you’ll make the right choice.

For SATW professional development, I’m Westways Travel Editor Elizabeth Harryman.