Do you know the difference between a passive or active voice in writing?
Well, you might know more than you think.
Why, you ask, is this important?
It’s rather important to writing style. Many writers write in the passive voice—at least, they do when they first start out. A better voice may be the active—it holds the reader’s attention better and, in a way, pulls the reader closer to the story. Like taking up the narrator’s shoes.
The voice of the story can remove excessive words and, like I said, hold the reader’s attention better. There is a lovely counterexample, of course: If I Stay by Gayle Foreman. That story is filled with passive voice, yet it is one of the best books I have ever read.
Do I have a good example for active voice? No, because most stories are written in the active voice, so it’s a normal thing to read.
I will, rather, show to excerpts: one written in passive voice, the other active. You can be the judge and pick which one sounds better to you. (Another excerpt from Rush, but altered.)
The guard is picking me up, turning around, and releasing me. I am catching myself from falling to my knees, my legs shaking from the drop. Once I am able to stand, I am looking Dr. Reed in the eye, trying hard to keep glaring at him. His face is lacking emotions, his usual smile not there. I am staring up at him, then looking away, not liking how his smile isn’t there.
The guard picks me up, turns around, and releases me. I catch myself from falling to my knees, my legs shaky from the drop. Once I’m able to stand, I look Dr. Reed in the eye, trying hard to keep glaring at him. His face lacks emotions, his usual smile not there. I stare up at him, then look away, not liking how his smile isn’t there.
Of course, I always write in the active voice, and the whole passive voice doesn’t sound natural to me—nothing passive sounds good to me. It is a style preference, but it is generally frowned upon, unless the writing is fantastic. (In reality, I can probably write a more natural, past tense, passive voice rather than present—past tense is foreign to me.)
How do you change a sentence from passive to active voice? I’d show you, but my mind runs on active voice, so unless you give me an example, I’m not much help.
Now, if you’d like me to help with writing in the active voice, I’d be glad to help (just keep in mind that school starts on August 22nd, and I’ll be busy with homework and going to bed before 9:30pm. I absolutely love editing. Just ask me and I might help.