Mar 28, 2012

The Passive Voice

Writers know that using the passive voice can hurt writing. It might prevent the reader from gaining a clear understanding of the work. I eliminate the passive voice in my writing whenever possible, but not always. I notice my tendency to over use the passive voice. It takes a lot of focus and concentration to stop writing this way. I can't even begin to think of how many times I have used the passive voice without being unaware of it. Good writers need to kill the passive voice.

What is the passive voice? Any form of "to be." For example: Is, Are, Am, Was, Were, Has been, Have been, Will be, Will have been, Being, Been.

For example, instead of saying: "He was afraid," one should write "He feared," or better yet, "He trembled."

I have been struggling (there is is again - that passive voice!) during the past few weeks with the need to correct and edit my writing as I go. I keep reminding myself that it's not the end of the world (even though it is 2012), it's just that I want to get the story and the words exactly right, right away. It sure slows me down and makes it difficult to get the story out. Some mornings I would like to be a rebel and write only using the passive voice, using tons of adjectives and adverbs. Ha ha. 

When I was quickly eating my breakfast cereal, I laughed hysterically until I was foaming from my lovely mouth. I was silently thinking about all of the times I had turned in completely awful writing, thinking it was incredibly good. I have been fooling myself all along, thinking I was an amazingly talented writer. Turns out, I have been sorely wrong and am deeply crushed. 


There. Got that out of the way. Off to write.


  1. I always tend to write in passive voice. haha!

    1. So many people write using the passive voice and aren't even aware of it! If you often write using the form of "to be," challenge yourself to write a paragraph and NOT write with the passive voice. Better yet, write a paragraph and then go through and edit out the passive voice. It sure makes for stronger writing!