Don’t Be a Passive Punk

So, I’ve been talking to a lot of my writers about passive voice lately and I thought I’d share it here on the blog.

So is you are a writer, one thing you might want to touch up as you go through your revisions is the passive voice. That’s when the subject of your sentence is the recipient of the action of the verb, right?

Whenever I write that, I think it sounds like gobbley-gook.

What I mean is this:

Active voice is when the subject makes the action.

Carrie loves manatees.

The writing coach worried about making money.

Passive voice is where the verb acts on the subject.

So that would be:

            Manatees are loved by Carrie Jones.

            The money was worried about by the writing coach.

Do you see how the doer comes after the thing that they’ve done?

Do you see the difference? It’s wordier and the verb is dominating the subject somehow.

How Do You Find Passive Voice In Your Story?

Look at a sentence and look at what’s getting done.

If nobody is doing that thing? Probably passive voice.

            Manatees are loved.

If the doer comes after the doing? Probably Passive voice.

            Manatees are loved by Carrie.

Random Things About the Passive Voice

It’s okay to have it sometimes. Sometimes it’s even necessary. It’s like a colonoscopy. You know you have to occasionally do it, but you don’t want to be doing it every day.

News stories use passive voice a lot because sometimes the reporter doesn’t know who did the action. If you don’t know or don’t care who did the action? It’s okay to use passive voice.

            A person was shot.

            A fire was set.

            A manatee was stolen.

Sometimes when you say something it doesn’t matter who said it. It’s just truth.

            Laws were created about manatees.

Sometimes what is being acted on is more important that the person doing the act.

            The manatees were loved by the random women from Maine.

Final Hint: Grammar Checkers That Are Automated Don’t Always Find That Passive Voice

They aren’t perfect. I know! Gasp!

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best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

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The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

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