What color is your writing?

Take your prose from blah-blah to rah-rah. Write in primary colors: red, blue, and yellow.

Why, then, is so much of what passes for communications olive-drab?

If you think of the language as a color wheel, you can begin to visualize how certain words and phrases complement each other—and how others clash. Then there are the combinations that bleed together into one muddy blob. They leave you feeling blah.

Take most passive voice construction. If I were to assign it a color, it would be beige. Beige neither offends nor excites. It’s there, but you don’t particularly notice it. No one has ever walked into a beige room, for instance, and said: “Wow!”

Here’s a typical beige phrase, and you’ve seen the first four words of it time after time:

Employees are encouraged to enter the drawing for a chance to win a prize.

It’s boring. It’s uninspired. It’s beige.

Let’s recolor it using the active voice:

Enter today and you could be a winner!

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