TIP #8: Replacing PASSIVE with ACTIVE (Voice)

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I've noticed in some writing the tendency to lean toward passive voice rather than telling the story through active voice. That is to say, when using passive voice, "the true subject is relegated to the end of the sentence and is thus acted on, rather than acting, which often weakens the statement." Let's look at an example of passive voice in use (note: taken from an actual Wattpad writer).

Passive voice: 

"Well, tell it to your face then, she teases me and I glare at her. My mouth opens to answer her remark but it's immediately shut down when the car rushes forward due to Harley's foot on the accelerator."

Active voice approach to this would be:

"Well, send the memo to your face," she teases. I glare back, primed to make a witty comeback until she slams the accelerator and takes the words right out of my mouth. Darn that Harley!"

In the example, the first issue of passive voice comes with the phrase: "My mouth opens to answer her remark but it's immediately shut down..."  Initially, it seems that "mouth" is performing the action of "opening." Then there is a shift from the mouth performing action to something performing action on the mouth: "it's immediately shut down..." The second issues comes with: "when the car rushes forward due to Harley's foot on the accelerator." Who's causing the car to rush forward: the foot or Harley?

Both these instances are problematic because they take away from who or what should be the real focus: the person(s) performing the action(s).

We resolve this with the active approach example given. In it, you now see that the protagonist or main character is actively participating: "I glare back, primed..." The MC's actions are then stunted by the actions of a second participant (Harley): "...she slams the accelerator and takes the words..." This example gives credit to those performing the action by showing them taking action. 

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