Our fourth lecture was on the principles of effective writing, which included trimming the fat and styles of writing. We watched a video presentation on effective writing which contained many hints and tips for making your writing easy and pleasant to read. Firstly we covered passive voice compared to active voice, with the caveat that passive voice should be avoided. A passive voice is wordier and less dynamic than an active voice and occurs where the object is acted upon by the subject instead of the more dynamic subject acting upon the verb.
E.g. “The man kicked the ball.” This sentence is in the active voice as the subject of the sentence, the man, acts upon the object (he kicks the ball).
E.g. “The ball was kicked by the man.” This sentence is in the passive voice as the object (the ball) is acted upon.
We also covered consistency in tense (if you start in the present tense then do not switch to past-tense) and perspective (if you start a sentence in the first person, do not switch to second or third person).
Other things to avoid when trying to write effectively include the over-familiarity of cliché’s, the repetition of redundant pairs (e.g. ‘each and every’, or ‘always and forever’) and the over-use of descriptive parts of speech such as adverbs and adjectives. Instead of excessive descriptors, using ‘strong verbs’ will give the gusto required without the wordiness.
There are four different types of writing, as follows:
- Expository (informative writing such as manuals, etc.)
- Persuasive (argumentative speeches or begging letters)
- Descriptive (journals?)
- Narrative (storytelling – helpful to use onomatopoeia or descriptive words here)