Passive vs Active

I don't think I've posted about this before. A lot of people think passive writing is simply using the word "was".

It's not.

You can have 'was' in a sentence and it still be active.

A passive sentence is one in which the action happens to the subject, rather than the subject performing the action. However, the word 'was' usually indicates weak writing. So check that manuscript!

A word of caution. I'm reading a HUGE bestseller that's filled with 'was's. I keep mentally rearranging the sentences. So don't go overboard and change everything. Sometimes 'was' is necessary and sometimes it makes the sentence sound better.

The important thing is that your writing zings. Watch out for passives and that will help propel your words to a stronger level.

Here's some links to articles that say it better than me: (Notice in this article that both sentences contain the word was.)

When did you learn about passive/active voice? Before or after your first finished manuscript?

Me? After. :-)


Terri Tiffany said…
I set my Word program to catch passive sentences as well. I learned about it a year into writing when I was doing short stories for Faithwriters!
Hi Jessica -

Passive/active voice came to my attention during writing process. I'd go to a writers' group or conference, learn something new, and run home to change all the mistakes. LOL! It's a tough way to write a book.

Thanks for the links.

Susan :)
Kristen Painter said…
Doesn't it drive you nuts when your brain wants to rewrite the book you're reading? lol
Jennifer Shirk said…
I learned after, too. In fact, I'm still learning things. LOL!
Wow, I think Blogger just deleted my comments.
So again, Yes, Kristen, it drives me bonkers.
Susan, Terri, and Jennifer, I'm still learning to. And the nice thing is our writing isn't set in stone. :-)
Anonymous said…
Hey Jessie! Thanks for the links. I read all of the articles and enjoyed them. I first learned about passive when writing my first novel. In fact, I learned almost every writing rule on that poor WIP.

Someday, I'm going to have brave the shark infested word pool and go back and look at that first book again. I expect an enlightening experience awaits me. I'll no doubt find even more things I've learned that can be applied to improve it.

Oh, and BTW, I made an effort to write this entire response without using a single passive verb. Quite a challenge...
Haha, you did a great job! LOL
That is a challenge. I want to get a look at your first book too. I'd love to see how your writing has grown. :-)
The awareness of passivity hovered around my consciousness when writing my first and second book. (Trying to be active there!) The real fun started when I wrote the entire first chapter of my WIP without a "was," passive or not.


Thanks for leaving your congratulatory comment on my sold-first-novel post. I started edits and cover work right away so please forgive my tardiness in replying.

I've been blogging about how the contract happened, if you want to check it out.
Oh, if you want a chance at winning the book stop by and subscribe to the infrequent, humorous newsletter. :-)
Hey Christina,
No problem. :-) You are one busy lady. Thanks for the link too!
Katie Salidas said…
Thanks for stopping by my blog. =)

Onto the topic at hand. Thanks for the links you posted in this blog. Passive writing is one of the struggles I am trying to overcome.

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