The only just literary critic is Christ, who admires more than does any man, the gifts He Himself has bestowed. – JRR Tolkien

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Active Versus Passive Voice

Engage Your Reader with Active Voice in Your Writing

How to write and revise your novel manuscript with active voice - passive examples.

While it has it’s uses – mostly in business writing – passive voice is considered weak and unappealing.

Technically speaking, voice is determined by the property of a transitive verb which shows whether the subject of a sentence acts or is acted upon.

Lets look at a sentence using passive voice:

Jane was eaten by the hungry tiger.

The past participle, eaten, combines with a being verb helper was to create passive voice.

Now lets look at a sentence using active voice:

The hungry tiger ate Jane.

Which sentence paints a more vivid picture for the reader?

If you’re like most people, the second sentence grabs you harder than the first. Because active voice is stronger and more direct, try to always strive in your writing to ensure you use passive voice sparingly and when absolutely necessary.

Lets look at a couple of other examples:

Mac’s car was driven over a cliff.

Now listen to the active voice.

Mac drove his car over a cliff.

Do you hear the difference? The active voice is livelier and packs a harder punch for the reader.

Here’s another:

  • (Passive voice) Yesterday, the wedding invitations were all sent out by Samantha.
  • (Active voice) Samantha sent all the wedding invitations out yesterday.

To avoid passive voice, the writer need only examine his or her sentences to ensure the subjects do the acting, rather than being acted upon.

By consistently using active over passive voice, you writing will come alive.

Your sentences will engage the reader, and therefore ensure his or her continuing interest in your story. And ultimately, the story is what it’s all about.

How to better engage your readers with active voice vs passive voice and see examples.

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