Action can make writing more interesting

When proofreading a number of large corporate documents recently, I realised how dull the writing can be. Just because someone is a specialist in a subject, it doesn’t always follow that they are good at communicating enthusiasm about this to other people.

One of the main problems is when the writing style is ‘passive’; by this I mean the practice of saying “something was done” rather than “something happened”. The opposite style is ‘active’, e.g. “I run”, “they started”. This style is far more energetic and gives vitality to writing.

It is remarkable what a difference this can make to a document, especially if it is a long one. Look out for this next time you read a long corporate report, especially if you find your eyes drooping in boredom. Also, bear it in mind when you write such documents – your readers will thank you and your writing will probably be more effective.

Robert Zarywacz