Saturday, April 25, 2015

A to Z Challenge: V is for Voice

Welcome to April. With its customary showers comes the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For those who are unfamiliar with it:
The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day. (Source) 
The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends. For more details and its history, go HERE 

My theme this year is EDITING

I'll be posting practical advice for editing any story, novel, or other piece of writing. Editing is something most authors struggle with, and after years of doing my own as well as that of others, I have a pretty good eye for what needs work. I'll be doing short posts on editing topics and (hopefully) dispensing simple, valuable advice to help everyone out there self-edit.

V is for Voice

Yet another major problem for many writers: passive versus active voice. Passive voice makes your writing wordy and choppy and boring. Active voice will root your reader in your story and keep them there.

So what are these strange disembodied voices? How do we define them?

Active voice: The subject is acting directly, and the verb moves the sentence along. "John carried the books to the table."

Passive voice: The subject is being acted upon by something else, and the verb gets completely lost. "The books were carried by John to the table."

How to recognize passive voice:

1) Look for verb modifiers: "...was carried," "were carrying," etc.
2) Excessive wordiness: "something was done to someone by something else."
3) Excessive prepositions. "were carried by John," "was taken around the table by the boy..." etc.

We all want strong characters, right? So make the subjects of your sentences act upon the world around them, not the other way around. If you go through and change all instances of passive voice to active, you'll be amazed at how much more concise and professional your writing is.

How do you stay away from passive voice?


  1. I have a list of passive words such as was and were and I try to eliminate them whenever possible.

    1. Yup. I include them in my crutch words list, but many of them are really more passive than crutch. :D

  2. I don't know why, but this is something I always have to watch out for. In one sentence I will write. "Erick walked in." but a few paragraphs later I'll write, "As Erick was walking, he waved to..." Drives me crazy when I see I've done something like that.

    1. Yeah, we all do. Every writer in the history of the world has used passive voice and needs to edit it, whether they do or not. :D

  3. I'm currently editing a manuscript and I'm finding soooo many examples of passive voice it's embarassing. It seems to be just the way I write (at least it was at the time I wrote this particular piece).

    1. Yeah, I hear ya. I really think it's the no. 1 thing writers need to edit for. Especially newbies, so if you wrote your piece a while ago, completely understandable.