All good editors are therapists

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When I start editing your manuscript, I learn something about you, the writer. That’s not just a side effect. It’s actually central to my ability to edit your work effectively. I don’t set out to psychoanalyze you. It’s just impossible not to. To improve a manuscript, I must understand the author’s goals What is the … Continued

Passive voice headlines must be avoided

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Yes, I did that title on purpose. Passive voice is so easy to slip into. I wrote an op-ed for the Boston Globe regarding why it now makes sense for the federal government of the US — regulators and lawmakers — to bring the full weight of enforcement on Facebook. The original title was “The … Continued

Duxbury fumbles the firing of its football coach for actions that horrified Jews

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Dave Maimaron, the head coach of the Duxbury, Massachusetts high school football team, condoned policies that made sport of the Holocaust. Then the town cut ties with him. Duxbury’s letter about the firing is evasive and defensive. What happened in Duxbury Imagine that you a high school football fan at a game between Duxbury and … Continued

“I was allowed to believe things that weren’t true” — Marjorie Taylor Greene

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Most uses of passive voice are lazy, thoughtless, or evasive. But the “allowed to believe” statement from Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene’s speech is in another category: in just nine words, Greene declares her own idiocy and ignorance, and then blames unspecified forces for highjacking her brain and her fingers. If there is a passive voice … Continued

The impeachment brief as a virtual clinic in passive voice

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The lawmakers from the House of Representatives sent a brief to the Senate about the single count of impeachment they’re about to try. For the most part, it’s clear and straightforward. But an analysis of the 115 instances of passive voice in it reveals a lot about what lawmakers — and former president Trump — … Continued

An LAPD shooting makes a bid for the passive voice Hall of Fame

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The purpose of police Twitter accounts is to inform people about public safety. The purpose of passive voice is (often) to avoid responsibility. These don’t go together well. Today we examine how the Los Angeles Police used passives that twist the truth into bizarre shapes in describing police shootings. A correspondent brought to my attention … Continued