This post is inspired by Sticky Readers: How to Attract a Loyal Blog Audience by Writing More Better, by Margaret Andrews. I was given a signed copy of this book by the author with no obligation to blog about it. Quotes are used with permission. All opinions are my own. Buy links are provided for readers’ convenience; I have no affiliation with any of the retailers listed.
As I just said, I “was given” a copy of this book. That’s the passive voice. According to Chapter 7 of Sticky Readers, I should have stated that more actively: “The author gave me a copy of this book.”
“This is a topic that comes from Creative Writing 101, but totally applies to blog posts. Using the active voice over the passive voice makes your blog posts whiz by faster. The passive voice slows your story down and feels like a total drag, man.”
I’ve long struggled with the use of the passive voice. I know I’m supposed to avoid it, but I think that there are times when the nature of my writing makes it appropriate. I tend to approach my posts, no matter what their subject, as a journalist (although I have no training as one). Journalism is supposed to be presented objectively, and the passive voice is a handy device for taking the writer out of the story.
But having said that, what makes blogging unique is that the writer is part of the story. Even if we’re basically reporting, our opinions and reactions are accepted and expected.
In addition to the passive voice, my attempts at objective presentation often include qualifiers. Chapter 4 suggests that this is another mistake:
“Don’t get all wimpy and apologize at the start and throw out a hundred caveats and waivers. It weakens your writing, beats around the bush, and takes out all the oomph.”
I get this. On the other hand (qualifier alert!), I want to recognize that there’s almost always more than one side to the issue, whatever the issue is. By definition, opinions are neither right nor wrong (seriously, they’re not, no matter what the pundits say). Of course, I’d like people to agree with my opinion–which makes me feel “right”–but I know not everyone will. I want to respect the potential for disagreement, but it’s challenging to do it without diluting my own stance.
Neither of these bad habits made it into Chapter 15, “The Top 10 Mistakes on Your Blog That Drive Readers Away,” but I have a few others that did:
- Wasting introduction space (talking about what I’ll be talking about instead of just talking)
- Posts that are too long
- Posts that are part of a series (as this one is – uh-oh!)
Sticky Readers packs a lot of useful advice into its compact 76 pages. It won’t take you long to read, but if you care about improving your blog content, it’s worth every minute you spend on it. It’s available in paperback from CreateSpace, Amazon.com, and Barnes and Noble, and as a Kindle e-book.