Thursday, May 3, 2012

Fiction Writing, Using an Active Voice

Purdue OWL
One of the things I forget so often on this blog is that writing is the most important part of self publishing. I've posted articles on how to do just about everything from formatting for kindle to uploading on Google Play. However I never post on the writing aspect of self publishing. Mostly I do this because it is my assumption that every one who reads this blog already knows how to write. After I got a response back from my editor the other day, I reconsidered this.

 I very seldom write in the third person. Some stories however just need to be written that way. One of the things my editor mentioned to me was that I have trouble using the active voice when writing in the third person. I've taken writing courses, was in honors English classes through out school, and yet still I did it consistently in my latest work. So I thought I would give a little refresher not only for myself but any one else that might be struggling with the same thing.

    A good way to check your work for passive voice is to look for the words, had, has, is and was. Are there a lot of them? If you find sentences that contain those words, can you find a way to reword them? Passive voice is usually unclear and and lengthy. Adding words that don't need to be there and making what is supposed to be happening fuzzy.  Here are a few examples of active vs. passive voice.

A successful project was expected by all the


All the staff expected a successful project (active)

The Drawing is being reviewed by Bill. (passive)

Bill is reviewing the drawing. (active)

   In a sentence written in the active voice, the subject of the sentence  performs the action. In a sentence written in the passive voice the subject receives the action.

It's a very simple rule that sometimes we can find hard to stick to, especially when writing in the third person, past tense. The way ninety percent of fiction is written.  For those of you who don't or have never had this problem, my hat is tipped to you. For those of you like me, that find your self falling into this trap, this article is for you.

Til next time, may your muse be at your side and your writing the light that guides you. 


Eko Trafsilo said...

thing smart for tomorrow.. not yesterday

Bella Harte said...

Hi Dawn, great post and fabulous blog!

I'm following....