Are you a passive writer?
Lately I’ve been struggling with my passive voice. I just can’t convince it to take a sick day. It pops up when I least expect it and some days I wish I could have it surgically removed.
What on Jupiter am I going on about?
Passive and active voices.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with these it all comes down to sentence structure and verb choice. Get that wrong and your readers going to take a nap right in the middle of Chapter 2.
Passive voice, where it doesn’t belong, can be recognized as an awkward sentence that will jerk you right out of the story.
A simple comparison of active and passive voices:
Active: Lucas kissed Teresa
Passive: Teresa was kissed by Lucas.
As you can see the verbs used in an active voice are more dynamic because they are more direct and emphasize the agent or doer of the action. But don’t misunderstand, just because the active voice makes for forceful writing doesn’t mean we’re trying to stamp out the passive voice altogether (no matter how tempting that might be). A passive voice is useful when the receiver of the action is more important than the agent and so we aim to minimize its usage (which you can do by violently hitting your delete key).
Often the difference between a powerful piece of writing and something guaranteed to put you to sleep is the use of your passive and active voices – made all the more difficult to achieve if yours has gone rogue like mine has.
Who said editing wasn’t fun?
How do you catch a passive aggressive takeover from voice land?