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Better Writing Part I: precise nouns, vivid verbs, sensory l

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Tara Williams

on 23 October 2013

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Transcript of Better Writing Part I: precise nouns, vivid verbs, sensory l

Better Writing Part I: precise language, vivid verbs, appropriate modifiers, active voice
Audience and Purpose

The biota exhibited a one hundred percent mortality response.

All the fish died.

Precise Language
Use the power of connotation and precise word choice to control what happens in the mind of your reader.
We learned from our CAHSEE diagnostic that we need to improve use of precise language. We learned from our recent Benchmark that we don't
yet understand the difference
between active and passive

Today we will improve these skills!

... an English mastiff?
Did you see...
... a puppy?
Did you see...
The words "an angry pit bull" conjure a very different image than -
Adding modifiers can also help to control what the reader imagines.
- a pampered chihuahua.
Use the power of connotation, modifiers and precise language to bring your writing to life!
Let's look at an example.
Starter sentence:
The dog is in the doorway.
Close your eyes.
Imagine this word.
What do you see?
But the dog stayed in the doorway. His scalded flank was so painful that he pressed himself against the cold wall, gasping for breath, and decided not to move from the spot. He would die in the doorway. Despair overcame him. He was so bitter and sick at heart, so lonely and terrified that little dog's tears, like pimples, trickled down from his eyes, and at once dried up. His injured side was covered with frozen, dried blood-clots and between them peeped the angry red patches of the scald. All the fault of that vicious, thickheaded, stupid cook. 'Sharik' she had called him . . . What a name to choose! Sharik is the sort of name for a round, fat, stupid dog that's fed on porridge, a dog with a pedigree, and he was a tattered, scraggy, filthy stray mongrel with a scalded side.
- from Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov

Active vs. Passive Voice
As much as possible, replace the verb "to be" with a more vivid and precise verb. Also avoid starting sentences with "There were" and "It is."

Think of it this way: if you can insert the
words "by zombies" after the verb in a
sentence, it is written in passive voice.
Examples of Passive Voice
Bad (passive voice):
The game was won. (by zombies)

Better (active voice):
Our team won the game.

Best (active and precise):
The Panthers varsity football team annihilated Bullard.

The food was eaten. (by zombies)

Better (active voice, subject before verb):

Best: (active voice and precise language):

Your turn!
Write a sentence using active voice and precise language for each of the pictures. (Hint: use your verb sheet)

Bad: Hot dogs are being eaten. (by zombies)

Your turn!
Bad: There is kissing. (by zombies)
Your turn!
Bad: The wave is being surfed. (by zombies)
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