If there’s no will . . .

Sticking with a football example — and, during the NFL playoffs, why not? — leads to another writing tip. Here’s the hypothetical (which could become reality, as the Vikings play the Saints for a Super Bowl berth): “Facing a critical third down at the Minnesota 23, Brett Favre had his pass intercepted by Darren Sharper.”

The issue is volition, that is, a conscious or deliberate decision or act. We can be sure that Favre didn’t intend his pass to go awry; writing that “he had his pass intercepted,” though, implies that he did intend it. Recast the sentence along these lines: “Facing a critical third down, Brett Favre threw a pass that Darren Sharper intercepted.” When you write that someone had something done or had something happen, be sure that the person intended the result.


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