20/20 #3 — Keep it moving

Active verbs – avoid “to be”

A teacher is someone who deserves respect.

VERSUS

Teachers deserve respect.

Make it jump – cut long verb phrases

Americans tend to change their residences often.

VERSUS

Americans move often.

VERSUS

The average American moves once every five years.

Show, don’t tell.

Speeches were full of passion and vigor.

VERSUS

Pounding the podium, Hal Feffer delivered a speech that brought the audience to their feet in a standing ovation.

Use quotes, stories and vivid descriptions.

Growing surveillance is in more and more areas of our lives.

VERSUS

Stepping into the post office for some stamps, pumping gas at the corner station, popping into the convenience store, walking down the hallway at school, waiting to catch a bus — in these and a hundred other actions, you’re on camera. (Park Bugle)

The mayor denied the allegations.

VERSUS

“Absolutely not,” the mayor said. “I never set eyes on that woman.”

The exception that proves the rule: say, says, said.

He said. She said. The governor said. The doctor says.

USUALLY NOT

He exclaimed. She warbled. The governor denounced. The doctor muttered.

New Standard Handbook says:

“Beware of so-called “weasel words,” like “many,” “some,” “often” etc., which tend to be baseless in fact and meaningless to the reader (e.g. “many people enjoy vanilla, but many others prefer chocolate”). It is often necessary to use these terms, but they must be applied with caution, and never to manipulate readers’ perception.”

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