Petite ReviMo March Day 2 - H. Joseph Hopkins Pt 2

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A big thanks to Joe for all his great revision information and inspiration! Can't wait to read more of your books, Joe!


One purpose for revising is to spot and eliminate typos, missing or excessive commas, missing periods, etc.

“Father” not “fat her”
“Farther” not “fart her”
“Friends” not “fiends” …but around Halloween you may want “fiends” not “friends.”
Typos and grammar errors distract the reader from the ideas. Words should convey images, not draw attention to themselves.

As second problem with typos is that the editor has to correct them before loading your text into his/her document. If you include typos you make the editor’s work more difficult.

Don’t make the editors’ life difficult.


Active voice helps picture the scene – it is easier for reader to see him/herself doing something.
Descriptive verbs help you stay in active voice
Active voice shortens your document, thus saving paper, time, effort, and money
Active voice is easier for children to comprehend

The basic form for active voice is: subject+verb. For example:

  • The girl remembered…
  • The children raced…
  • The meat sauce bubbled…
The Passive form
Often indicated by helping verbs combined w/ another verb, for example:

  • is,
  • am
  • are,
  • were,
  • was,
  • been
The word "by" is another clue to identifying passive voice.
"The house is being built by a family
"That call was not made by me.
"Our mail carrier was bit by the dog.
"My computer has been fixed twice already

Sometimes passive is helpful. Consider my sentence “You may have to ask old uncle Jiggs what “percolate” means.” Here is a passive form of that sentence: “You may have to ask old uncle Jiggs what is meant by the word “percolate?” This passive sentence has the advantage of putting the key word “percolate” at the end of the sentence. Used sparingly, passive voice can be helpful.

Passive voice is commonly used in scientific and academic writing. Active voice is preferred in newspaper, magazine, media, and popular writing


These words do double duty: they label action and describe the context in which the action occurred. Thus, they help you stay in active voice.

For example,
“In the morning the children raced to the Christmas tree.”

Or, two young adult sisters whisper to each other on Easter morning:
“Let’s catch up while the children search for eggs.”

Or, describing a bright child’s response to school:
“She remembered the poems and stories she read.”

In The Tree Lady, trees are said to have “reached” toward the sky; branches said to be “stretched wide” to “catch” the light; and Balboa Park is described as a place “where people grazed cattle and dumped garbage.”


Note that in the sentences above from The Tree Lady I gave three examples of strong descriptive verbs. Writers, painters, and other artists have learned that the human mind seems to prefer groups of three. So, it is helpful if you name items in threes, for example,

During the Christmas season I enjoy the lights, the music, and the smiles.”

Of course there are times when you must ignore the rule of three. For example,

“Grandpa has lost his sight but he still enjoys holiday food with their delicious smells and tastes.”


So helpful! Thank you thank you Joe!

H. Joseph "Joe" Hopkins lived for many years on a houseboat on the Columbia River in Portland OR. Joe came to writing through a series of happy accidents after retiring from life as a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP). Joe's picture book, The Tree Lady, illustrated by Meg McElmurry, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2013 and has won numerous awards from librarians and groups interested in biography, sustainability, environmental science, and the lives of independent women. The Tree Lady is a picture book biography of Kate Sessions, an independently minded woman who spent her life bringing plant color to San Diego and Balboa Park in Southern California. Reactions by reviewers children and parents have been uniformly positive and passionate. Sales have been brisk and The Tree Lady has reprinted three times.  Contact Joe at


Kaye Baillie said...

Thanks, Joe for these reminders of tightening and improving our words.

Nat Keller said...

Thanks for your inspiring post Joe! These are great points to keep in mind when revising.

Lori Mozdzierz said...

Joe, congratulations on the success of The Tree Lady! Thank you for planting the active seed of revision, the use of passive voice where needed, and the rule of three.

pathaap said...

Once again, such helpful advice for revisions - thanks Joe!

Donna Cangelosi said...

Thank you for the reminders and helpful examples, Joe!

saputnam said...

Great post, Joe! Thank you for reminding us about active and passive voice, as well as the “rule of three”

Juliana Lee said...

The typos made me laugh! My suggestion is to have someone else read your story, many times we can't see our own typos.

Gabi Snyder said...

Thanks, Joe! These are great reminders. I have a tendency to use too much passive voice in my drafts. Thanks for the reminder to revise using active voice with strong descriptive verbs.

Doris Stone said...

Thanks, Joe for this wonderful post!

Jarmila V. Del Boccio said...

I always struggle with the passive voice, and finding just the right descriptive verb. Thanks so much for the help, Joe!

Elizabeth Brown said...

Another great post. It is always helpful to remember these pointers for revising. Thanks so much!

Tracy Molitors said...

Thank you again, Joe. I always appreciate good examples to get a point across!