Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Few Tips About Passive Voice

Hey, we all do it. All of us find ourselves typing away at the keyboard, totally on a roll, and using passive words big time. It's the norm. But what isn't - is not going back over your manuscript to try to change those words to strong verbs, or active words.

Why is this so important? Because by using active words you keep your readers turning the page. Active words are more dramatic, stronger. By changing from the usual passive, you will excite your readers and they will enjoy your book a lot more.

Now, there are times where certain passive words work, and, of course, you can't eliminate all of them, but to realize when it's appropriate is a bonus!

As I said, sometimes it is appropriate. There are times when passive voice is required and preferred. 

But what exactly is "Passive voice"?

Passive voice is produced by using an auxiliary verb (e.g. to be), which is used with a past participle. Example: to be, they are - is, are, am, was, were, have been, has been, had been, will be, will have been, and being.

A past participle is a form of the verb that usually, though not exclusively, ends in 'ed'. Verbs are usually active or passive.

An example would be: The heat was turned up by Luke.
                                 The job was what Terry needed to get ahead.

In other words, Luke and Terry are the recipients of the action rather than the subjects of the action. 

Example: Luke turned up the heat. Or: Terry needed the job to get ahead. These are active sentences.

Active: The subject preforms the action. 

What words made the sentences passive? Was. Avoid too much 'was' in your narrative. 

Of course, we don't always spot passive sentences, and there are times where they really do fit because we do use them in everyday life. 

Another example of passive voice are 'ing' words - verses 'ed'. There are times where the sentence flows better if you use 'ing'. Yes, you can reword your sentences to use more 'ed' words, but, as my editor has pointed out to me, sometimes the 'ing' is necessary and even reads better.

If you can avoid a lot of 'ing' that's a good thing, but allow them also at times. 

Now onto stronger verbs. 

We should all have a thesaurus at our disposal. Whether on our computer when we are writing or the actual book. Use it. When you are revising your manuscript, try to change your verbs to stronger ones as you go along.

Example: Tammy ran across the field.
               Tammy rushed across the wide open landscape.

Or: We are going to fight.
      We are marching to battle, or, We march to battle.

Just some examples off the top of my head, but I think you get the point. Make your sentences more exciting, more active, by using stronger verbs, verses boring, everyday ones.

Well, I hope these hints and tips help you along on your writing journey. I try to explain in easy terms so that you fully get the gist. If you get a moment leave me a comment and let me know if my tips and hints help you along with your writing. It means a lot to me to know if it helps you.

Love, Lisa

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