This week: Active vs. Passive Voice Edited by: Annette
More Newsletters By This Editor
1. About this Newsletter
2. A Word from our Sponsor
3. Letter from the Editor
4. Editor's Picks
5. A Word from Writing.Com
6. Ask & Answer
7. Removal instructions
|“Active voice is used for most non-scientific writing. Using active voice for the majority of your sentences makes your meaning clear for readers, and keeps the sentences from becoming too complicated or wordy.” ― Purdue Online Writing Lab|
Active vs. Passive Voice
Active voice examples:
The goalie caught the ball.
The chariot zoomed around the bend.
She spilled the milk.
Passive voice examples:
The ball was caught by the goalie.
The chariot was driven around the bend.
The milk was spilled by her.
Active voice is when the subject of the sentence performs the action. Writing in active voice should be the aim of a fiction writer. The active voice makes a piece more vivid. Instead of witnessing everything as if standing behind a veil of confusion, the reader is right there in the action of the story. For instance, the character could witness two snakes fighting. The snakes are acting on their own accord. The character is not in the way. However, the image is not very sharp and we might feel like the phrase needs more words to describe how the snakes fought. Instead of bogging the narration down with adjectives, use simple active verbs. Two snakes struck and snapped is immediate and visual.
Active verbs also help to avoid writing in general terms or being too judgmental.
His hair was beautiful.
The boy was very happy.
His curls bounced.
He leaped over the threshold.
Not to be confused with "Author Filtering" , passive voice has a place in fiction writing. That is when the author wants to show how the character in the scene is being acted upon with no agency. Picture a blindfolded person being pushed around. In the blindfolded person's point of view, they are being acted upon. He was guided around many corners until he had lost all sense of direction. This example conveys the character's helplessness through the use of passive voice. In this case, we did not want the character to be an active participant. Use passive voice judiciously when it fits the needs of the story. Otherwise, avoid it in fiction.
Can an inanimate object perform an action?
Have an opinion on what you've read here today? Then send the Editor feedback! Find an item that you think would be perfect for showcasing here? Submit it for consideration in the newsletter!
Don't forget to support our sponsor!
|I received these replies to my last For Authors newsletter "The Other Half" that asked How much time and effort do you spend on revisions?|
Quick-Quill wrote: I love this. I’m keeping for my notes. Good reference
That is nice!
Damon Nomad wrote: Thanks for the newsletter, the theme of editing was useful. It took me a while to recognize the importance of editing. Even longer to embrace it as part of the process of writing. It seemed like a burdensome and tedious process, not nearly as enjoyable as the excitement of creation. I see it very differently now, and while my copy-editing skills are lacking, I look forward to editing. Tweaking and adjusting the storyline, working on the pace, and reworking the dialog. The chance to try and bring the story alive and entertaining for readers.
You are so right that editing and tweaking are where the story comes alive and becomes entertaining for readers. I too struggle to edit.
oldgreywolf scribbles wrote: 1. Before deleting, should copy & paste into a different file for potential use later.
2. Some authors say they walk away from a completed draft for at least 30 days and work on something else.
3. H G Wells commonly worked on 5 or 6 projects at a time.
Good points. Each one of them.
brom21 wrote: I usually leave the editing to another person. lol. The exception is short stories, typically Writer's Cramp entries or stories around 20,000 words. However, I did go over one story about 80k words long at least six times. It ended up being the one I am seeking to publish. I am working on my second novel and I plan to do at least seven read overs with that one. Thanks for shining some light on this topic!
You're doing it right. Go over it yourself a few times, but get an editor to show you where more work is needed. It takes a set of fresh eyes to see certain mistakes.
Nicole Michelle wrote: I spend a great deal of time in the revision stage. Part of it is because of the fact that I'm a pantser! I write as quickly as possible and usually my first draft of a short story is a discovery phase. Then my revision process carves it onto being more of the story I intended it to be.
I am a little jealous that you have such a good grasp on the revision stage. I have so many first drafts and nothing edited.
To stop receiving this newsletter, click here for your newsletter subscription list. Simply uncheck the box next to any newsletter(s) you wish to cancel and then click to "Submit Changes". You can edit your subscriptions at any time.