May 2024 Newsletter

Welcome to The Write Spot Newsletter about writing events and writerly tips.


I hope your writing is going well.

If it isn’t . . . maybe it’s time for inspiration!

Check out Just Write on The Write Spot Blog.

Or, maybe the Sparks page on The Write Spot Blog will . . . ahem . . . spark your writing!  

Perhaps it’s time for ideas on how to strengthen your writing.

Use active voice rather than passive voice.

From Daily Writing Tips:

English verbs are said to have two voices: active and passive.

Active Voice: the subject of the sentence performs the action:

His son catches fly balls. Creative children often dream in class.

Passive Voice: the subject receives the action:

The ball was caught by the first baseman.
The duty is performed by the new recruits.
The dough was beaten by the mixer.

Adjectives and Adverbs

From Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon:

Adjectives: Use sparingly and consciously. Overuse indicates a need to find more precise nouns and to show rather than tell.

Adverbs: Too often, writers use these to beef up weak verbs. Your goal should be to make verbs strong enough to do the work themselves and kill off your adverbs. You won't be able to get rid of all of them, but circle each one in your draft and use a thesaurus to find strong verbs that characterize and carry emotions as well as convey action.

Paraphrased from Victoria Zackheim, personal essayist

An adverb modifies a verb and clarifies the action. Avoid adverbs and use strong verbs instead, because adverbs "tell" rather than "show" the action. Example:

"I don't understand," said the man angrily, his hands balled into fists.
"Angrily" tells and "balled into fists" shows that he is angry. So, "angrily" is redundant.
Avoid adverbs that end in -ly:  "The boy raced quickly along the sand." If he was racing, we know it's quickly.

Adjectives describe nouns. Try using strong verbs so adjectives aren't necessary.


"Tears came to her eyes and she looked away" rather than "Sad tears came to her eyes."

Verbs are the action words and can be scene stealers when used well.

A verb that is used well rarely needs to be modified. 


"The bear responded angrily and he dangerously revealed his claws."
Delete the adverbs for a stronger sentence:  "The bear growled and bared his claws."

It's almost never a good idea to use an adverb when writing dialogue. It takes away the reader's delight to imagine the scene. "Do this or I'll kill you," he said menacingly can stand without that adverb, since his comment is menacing.

“Do this or I’ll kill you,” he said.

There are times when an adverb enhances and clarifies the sentence. For example:

"The rain fell intermittently." The adverb "intermittently" tells us that the rain fell off and on.
"He paid the bill occasionally."  In this sentence, occasionally is an important adverb.

For more on making your writing stronger: Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch by Constance Hale.

In the June newsletter, we’ll talk about picking up the pace in our writing.

Meanwhile, Just Write!



Lighting the path for reflection
The Write Spot Blog