Hi, I'm Ray Evans. I'm a certified copyeditor and proofreader.
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Passive Voice: The Grammar Mistake That's So Boring, It Puts Ambien Out of Business (Or Self-Edit Tips Pt 2)
What's the Passive Voice?
Passive voice is a writing style where the subject of the sentence is receiving the action, rather than
the subject actively performing the action. For example, "The ball was thrown by the boy" is passive
voice, while "The boy threw the ball" is active voice. Using passive voice in writing can be confusing
for readers and make your writing less engaging and interesting.
Additionally, passive voice can make your writing sound dull and flat, making it more difficult for
your readers to connect with your work. This can be especially damaging for authors who are writing
books for profit, as readers may be less inclined to purchase a book that is poorly written. Therefore, it
is generally a good idea to avoid using passive voice in your writing if you are looking to sell more of
Some Examples of Passive Voice
1) The cookies were devoured by the hungry children.
2) The book was read by the student in one night.
3) The thief was apprehended by the police.
*Yawn* I almost feel asleep while typing up those examples. They're flat and undynamic.
Best way to avoid this? Hire a proofreader or editor to go through your work for you.
Second-best way? Use the tips below when you self-edit your next story ⬇️
How to Avoid Passive Voice In Your Writing
When writing fiction, it is important to avoid using the passive voice.
*Confession time* In college I'd use the passive voice to pad my word count for essays.
But don't tell anyone 🤫
The passive voice can make for dull, wordy writing that does not capture the readers' attention.
Instead, you should focus on writing in the active voice, it is more direct and engaging for readers.
You do this by making sure the subject of each sentence is performing the action
and that the verbs used are strong and vivid. Additionally, you should make sure to avoid using long
verb phrases and keep your sentences concise.
Let's Fix the Examples from Earlier!
1) The hungry children devoured the cookies
2) The student read the book in one night.
3) The police apprehended the thief.
⏫ My actual reaction after re-reading the sentences re-written in the active voice.
See how much better and dynamic they sound when re-written? Don't you want you want
to write sentences that'll make you readers do the same?
By following these tips, you can ensure their writing is engaging and lively.
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