Tag Archives: passive voice

Three Things Thursday

from Brenda Bensch

Keep your platform visible, suggests Chuck Sambuchino, author of Create Your Writer Platform (available at Writer’s Digest Books):

Now that you’ve contacted an editor, an agent, a publicist, fans, or wherever you are in this crazy world of working to get published and READ, you need to do a few more “chores”: create, and keep an active website; check your email (and other contact spots like Twitter, etc.) briefly, but DAILY; make your contact info easy to find, but difficult for spammers (i.e., spell out your email address, etc.); even if you have an agent and/or a publicist, list YOUR information too so people can contact you when time is short or they have questions that can’t wait.
from Cheryl Van Eck
Today I want to talk about the dreaded “passive voice.”

We all know it’s evil. And yet we all do it. Why?

It’s because we have trouble knowing when a sentence is passive and when it’s not. Here’s a simple rule:

If you can insert the words “by zombies” after the verb, it’s passive.

Easy, right? Let’s look at an example:

“She was attacked by zombies.”

Bor-ing! This should be intense, terrifying, but…it’s boring. So to fix it, we try to add one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad adverbs.

“She was attacked viciously by zombies.”

But guess what? It’s still a bad sentence. Now try this:

“Zombies attacked her.”

You can see the blood and guts all over! When you get rid of the passive voice, you stop sounding like a textbook and start sounding like a writer. The passive voice forces the reader to process the words, and an active voice lets the words paint a picture.  

Now it’s time for you to throw out all your passive voice sentences. Add “by zombies” to the end of all your sentences, and leave us a comment of the funniest one you find!

from Carol

What is your favorite book for kids or teens?


What about the novel you’re writing?

Does it have any of the whys you answered for your fave read?

How can you improve your novel–looking at that favorite book–so that your book takes on some of those qualities.

I am not suggesting you steal anything from that pubbed inspiration. But, is it style? Voice? Subject matter? The way you feel when you read it?

How can you add those bits to make your novel a favorite for others?

Leave a comment

Filed under CLW, three thing thursday, writing process

Are You a Wimpy Writer?

What’s wrong with these sentences?

Mistakes were made.

People were hurt.

My manuscript was rejected.

If you recognize the problems in these sentences, pat yourself on the back.  If you don’t recognize the problems in these sentences, you may be afflicted with a debilitating prose malady that if not corrected, will leave you fit for only the most obscure and useless kinds of writing: political and academic.  If that’s the kind of writing you plan to do, stop reading now.  If you hope to write fiction and nonfiction that people might actually want to read, read on.

The world has need of all kinds of writers, so you shouldn’t feel ashamed if you’re doomed to write for political or academic stuff.  Someone needs to write vague, ambiguous, wordy sentences, and if that’s you, embrace your fate and prepare for a career as a weak-willed, mealy-mouthy, wimpy writer.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But most writers prefer an audience of living, breathing readers, readers who have a wider view of the world.  And those writers, my friends, do not use the passive voice.  Real, living-breathing writers compose in active voice, that is, their sentences have subjects that are also the doers of the action of a sentence.  If you look at the sentences above, you’ll see that although they have subjects, the doer (or actor, or perpetrator) is obscured.  I love the political, sideways admission of guilt, “Mistakes were made,” because it’s absolutely true.  Mistakes were made, but it cleverly leaves out the committer of those mistakes.  A revision of that sentence into active voice would look like this:  “I made mistakes” or “My vice president made mistakes” or “The blasted cat made mistakes.”

The second sentence suffers from the same wimpy, brain-sucking disease.  Instead of writing, “People were hurt,” a living, breathing writer would say, “The blasted cat hurt people” or “The shipwreck hurt people” or something like that.  In the last example, rather than letting an editor off the hook with a passive construction of “My manuscript was rejected,” it should say something like “Throckmorten Jones, a bloodless editor at Mammoth Corporate Publishing, rejected my manuscript” or “The soulless, humorless Blogmistress at Throwing Up Words Inc. rejected my Project Writeway manuscript.”  As you can see, active sentences place the doer in the subject seat of the sentence and provide additional information that makes the sentence more direct and more specific.

If you need to brush up on your use of active voice, check out the passive voice link about and/or watch this video:



And then watch this video:



So, don’t be a wimpy, whiny, indecisive, weak-willed writer.  Use active voice.


Filed under Chris, Uncategorized