Putting People in Your Writing

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Putting people in your writing is what you should do to make your readers react favorable to your writing . Readers expect certain kinds of writing to be impersonal and abstract – technical reports or critical analyses, for instance. When you’re doing that kind of task, you may need to write objectively and keep your tone impersonal. For many other kinds of writing - an opinion column, history or English paper, a personal web page or an oral presentation – you can introduce characters, personalities or historical figures into your writing and write about what they’ve done or invented or accomplished, this simple strategy of putting people into your writing always makes it clearer and more readable.

Readers react favorable to such writing because we’re all interested in people and their stories. When we know who is behind ideas or actions or whom they affect, those ideas ans action become more interesting.

For Example :

We’re more likely to take an interest in the discovery of a new drug or a new technology in cell phones if we know who made the discovery and whom it will benefit. Moreover, the author who is writing about people or groups of people is more likely to use strong active verbs to describe what they’re dong and get rid of weak verbs like is and are and feeble verb phases like it is the case that or there is a possibility that.

When you mention actual people in your writing, you’re likely to use fewer abstract terms – they just don’t fit well with active verbs.

For Example : Compare the two versions of this sentence:

Original : A workforce with a high proportion of illiterates is a determent to productivity.

Revision : Workers who cannot read and write cut down productivity.

The original sentence has a bland, abstract subject (a workforce with a high proportion of illiterates) and an inactive verb (is). The word Workers is the concrete subject of the revised sentence and cut down is the active verb.

We will have more advice about culling down such abstract terms in the next section on Choosing Concrete Words.

Making People Your Sentence Subject :

When you can, choose people as the subjects of your sentences. By doing so, you give your readers a solid anchor early in the sentence and make the sentence easier to follow.

For instance, compare these two versions of the same sentence:

Original : The affordability of hotels is a major factor in drawing tourists to Baja.

Revision : Tourists flock to Baja because of its affordable hotels.

The second sentence is easier to read and understand because it use tourists as a subject and combines it with an active verb (flock) instead of the uninteresting verb (is).

Now compare the following.

Original : Voluntary employee participation in the plan is requisite for is success.

Revision : Employees will have to participate in the plan willingly if it is going to succeed.

The first version sounds like government – issue language. The second is a straightforward statement about people.

Another Example :

Original : The likelihood that plagiarism will be a problem in college course has increased greatly because of the internet.

Revision : Because of the Internet, today’s college students have more opportunities to plagiarize.

The original sentence here never mentions human beings. The revision makes people the subject of the sentence.

Other Pages in This Section :

  • Illustrating General Statements with Specific Examples

  • Making Your Readers See Something

  • Choosing Concrete Words

  • Adding Metaphors for Clarity

  • Successful Writing Index

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