This week’s post topic came about after (once again) reading grammatically-challenged articles online. I automatically proofread everything these days – every article, book or online missive. I can’t help myself (thanks a lot, Catholic grammar school nuns). What I find all too often are: 1) multiple tenses in one sentence (make up your mind); 2) passive voice (MS Word or Ginger Software can help with this); and 3) a reactionary style of writing, where the protagonist is responding to something or someone instead of taking action.
Your Tense Must Make Sense!
No matter what you’re writing (blog, book, article, etc.), it’s important to maintain the correct tense in each sentence and avoid the passive voice. FYI – each tense has its own passive voice, created by using a form of the auxiliary verb, to be (am, is, was, are, were, will be, etc.).
In a recent blog post from The Book Designer, I found this very mistake at the top of the article:
“One way to do this is by learning what passive voice is, how to find it, and eradicating it from your writing.”
I discovered the errors the first time I read it. Do you see them? Read it again, with a bit of change:
One way to do this is by learning to learn what passive voice is, how to find it, and how to eradicate eradicating it from your writing.
The author also began the sentence with “one way” and proceeded to list three ways (in reference to grabbing the reader’s attention). This is how I would write the sentence, with correct tense and active subject/verb:
“It’s important to learn what passive voice is so you can find it in your writing and eradicate it.”
Don’t Be Passive, Be Active!
Passive voice in sentences is when the subjects (protagonist, antagonist, etc.) are acted upon by the verbs instead of the other way around. Active writing is when the subjects are proactive, not reactive. Active writing makes for stronger, more interesting characters and an entertaining read.
One example of passive vs. active writing:
Passive: My laptop was stolen.
Active: Someone stole my laptop.
Once you learn the difference between active and passive writing, you’ll find it easy to maintain active sentences (unless passive is necessary in a character’s dialogue). Ginger software, for example, can teach you how to avoid the passive voice and in the process you’ll become a better writer.
Better for you, better for your readers.
#writing #fiction #nonfiction #grammar #gingersoftware
Using passive voice is my achilles heel. Thanks for this post–this is a reminder I can use.
I like to remind people, including writers, to not write as we speak… good habits to be conscious of, for sure.