Active Voice

Sorry my story is so long

The story used to be a staple in newsrooms across the country. “Sorry my story is so long,” the young reporter says to his editor, “but I didn’t have time to make it shorter.” Indeed, it is time-consuming to pare writing, or content, to the bone, but the return-on-investment is huge in terms of the audience who not only reads your posts but remembers it for all the right reasons. One of the keys to writing content that stands out from the crowd is emphasizing the active tenses and strong verbs, rather than the passive voice and adjectives that are too-clever-by-half. Some content creators reflexively favor passive verbiage under the misguided notion that it lends their message a certain [...]

First, the Eyes

If you ever read Alice Steinbach’s profile of a 10-year-old blind boy that appeared in the Baltimore Sun in May of 1984, what you are most likely to remember is that she had you at “Hello.” The first words of Steinbach’s article, entitled A Boy of Unusual Vision, did not invite you to read more so much as they dared you to turn away. First, the eyes: They are large and blue, a light, opaque blue, the color of a robin’s egg. And if, on a sunny spring day, you look straight into these eyes—eyes that cannot look back at you—the sharp, April light turns them pale, like the thin blue of a high, cloudless sky. Steinbach’s narrative masterpiece, [...]