Clear Technical Writing
Clear Action

Buried Action

Passive voice is often used in technical writing because it appears "professional" to people who consider themselves authorities. It's unfortunate, but you may not have a choice in your current job.

When you are allowed to write in active voice, keep in mind there are two ways to uncover the buried action in your first draft: unveil the subject and unveil the verb.

Unveil the subject

Transpose the subject.

I was asked by Dr. Jung.

Dr. Jung asked me.

Extract the subject.

In the notebook, my responses were listed.

The notebook listed my responses.

Supply the subject.

It was decided that I needed help.

Dr. Jung decided that I needed help.

Unveil the verb

Release a verb from inside an abstract noun.

During our evaluation of the data, we made a discovery of a new trend.

When we evaluated the data, we discovered a new trend.

Release a verb from inside an adjective.

The outcome is indicative that your theory is applicable to our process.

The outcome indicates that your theory applies to our process.

Edit your writing by underlining buried action.

We were selected by the project manager. In the project schedule, all our tasks were defined. It was requested that we attend the meeting. We worked on the creation of the specification. I am dubious that the project will end well.

The project manager selected us. The project schedule defined all our tasks. The project manager requested that we attend the meeting. We created the specification. I doubt that the project will end well.

Lesson: Buried Action
Module: Clear Action
Course: Clear Technical Writing