What is active and passive voice?

Do you constantly hear about writing in the “active” or “passive” voice? Are you confused by what this actually means and how it could impact your writing?

Read on for what the difference is between the active and passive voice and why it is important to know.

What Is Active Voice?

When you use “active voice”, the subject is performing the action.

What Is Passive Voice?

In a passive sentence the subject (or the person doing the action) is right at the end. Using passive voice tends to slow your writing down and distances your reader from the action.

Examples of active vs passive sentences:

Active: I love you.
Passive: You are loved by me.

Active: The woman read her book.
Passive: The book was read by the woman.

Active: He rode his motorbike over the jump.
Passive: The motorbike was ridden over the jump by him.

Can you see the difference in these sentences? Which sentence is more powerful?

Is it wrong to use passive voice?

It is not wrong. However, it is not the best way to phrase sentences as it can be awkward and hard to understand. Using the passive voice can also create lengthy sentences (as evidenced by the examples above).

When can you use passive voice?

In your writing it is a good idea to use the passive voice if you wish to place emphasis on the action, as opposed to the person performing the action. Many crime and mystery writers use this technique to highlight certain events that are pivotal to their story.

Example: The dog was stolen (passive).
Somebody stole the dog (active).

The mystery writer wanted to highlight the missing dog that is central to the plot, thereby used a more passive style of sentence.

How do you change your sentences to active voice?

Generally speaking, changing a sentence to be more active is easy. You simply bring whomever, or whatever, is performing the action of the sentence to the beginning. This usually fixes most issues with passive sentences.

Fixing passive sentences can happen when you are revising and editing, however it is handy to be able to spot them as you write.

Lost yet?

Try reading your sentences out loud. When you write sentences with active voice, your story moves faster. When you use the passive voice, you tend to use more helping verbs and it slows the action down. How do your sentences sound? Is it the focus you were going for?

I hope this helps you with your writing. If anyone else has advice on passive and active voice I would love to hear it!

 Useful links:

 https://www.englishgrammar101.com/module-3/verbs/lesson-11/active-vs-passive-voice

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/active-voice-versus-passive-voice?page=3

https://www.writerscentre.com.au/blog/tip-active-voice-versus-passive-voice/

https://www.dailywritingtips.com/passive-vs-active-voice/

 

 

 

 

How to Create Powerful Writing

How to create Powerful Writing

Creating a powerful and memorable piece of writing is so much more then simply knowing proper spelling and grammar. You want to convey emotions and portray a picture, to draw your reader into your story so they can see what you see, and feel what you feel, when you write. You want them to be thinking about it long after they have finished reading.

I want you to take a moment and close your eyes. Think about a piece of writing that truly engaged you, that made you want to keep reading, that evoked emotions and passion and made it hard to put down. I want you to analyse what it was about that particular piece that resonated with you? What made it so memorable for you?

When you have roughed out a first draft, think about the following points to create powerful writing as you re-write and edit. They may help your writing to go from mediocre to emotive and gripping.

1. Know your audience

As a writer, your job is to know whom you are targeting with your writing. You need to know what will hold their interest, what language they will understand, what will appeal to them and the beliefs and knowledge they hold. This will help you to write a book that resonates with your target audience and will also help when it comes to marketing strategies.

2. Flow and readability

You need your writing to be readable and flow seamlessly to create powerful writing. The readability of your work is determined by sound grammar and clear writing that your reader will find easy to understand. Flow is created by consistency of tone, style and tense as well as logical transitions between scenes, dialogue, paragraphs or chapters.

3. Focused

Powerful writing has a goal in mind, an intended point. It may be that you are selling something, attempting to convince someone of something, explaining how to do something, or instilling a belief or moral through telling a story. It does not matter what your goal is, but you must have it clear in mind when you are writing so you remain focused and clear.

 4. Compelling

Powerful writing reaches out and grabs the readers’ attention. Find that one thing that is unique to your story and expound upon that, use it to create interest and intrigue, to cause readers to pick your piece or writing over others.

 5. Passion

You cannot make your reader care about something unless you care about it yourself. If you wish you could make a list of topics you are passionate about and develop writing projects from there. You can use your passion to make your intended audience care about your topic, or to heighten their emotions in regards to a topic they are already passionate about. Great writing grows from passion and emotion.

 6. Multiple Senses

You use your full range of senses of site, sound, touch, taste and smell when experiencing events in the real world. To create powerful writing, you need to evoke these senses in your readers through great description.

 7. Characters

A great tool to create powerful writing is to develop intriguing and complex characters that your readers will either love or hate. You must also give your audience insight into your characters. What makes them tick? What are their motivations and aspirations? What are their likes and dislikes? What sets them apart from others? The more your audience knows about your characters, the more they will relate to them and what you’re putting them through.

 8. Strong Emotions

Evoking strong emotions will keep your reader interested, and will ensure they want to know what happens next. Humans are emotional and for the most part social creatures. We want to feel like we are part of something; we want to feel empathy and sympathy. Our job as a writer is to make them feel happy, sad, angry, triumphant, and everything in between.

9. Point of View and Voice

The point of view and voice you choose to convey in your writing piece can have a strong impact on your audience and how they relate to it. Point of view will change how close or removed your reader is from what is happening in the story, and voice is how the story is being told. Is it humorous? Sarcastic? Matter of fact? Is it told from a childs’ perspective, therefore a childs’ voice? You must answer all of these questions and have them clear in your mind when writing. How you want your story to sound and to be conveyed will determine point of view and voice.

10. Less is More

Don’t use two words when one more powerful word is available. It helps to keep your sentences easy to read and avoids the pitfall of “overwriting”.

 11. Use an active voice

There is a big difference between passive and active voice, and how it will affect your writing. Powerful writing uses active voice to draw the reader in and evoke potent emotions. Be wary of being caught out by the passive voice!

Useful Articles on Powerful Writing:

 “8 Qualities of Powerful Writing” – Dustin Wax

“5 Powerful Writing Techniques That Bring Stories To Life” – Henry Herz

“Follow These Rules For Stronger Writing” – Writers Digest