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Monday, September 08, 2014

THE ABC'S OF HOW 'NOT' to WRITE SPECULATIVE FICTION: V is for Active and Passive Voice


VOICE IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE VERB and its subject or object. When the subject owns the action or state, as in, “The dog chased the rabbit,” the subject ‘dog’ is linked to the action ‘chased’. We call this structure active, or representing the Active Voice.

Passive Voice occurs when the object of a sentence is treated like the subject, but does not initiate the action or state. Rather, the object is acted upon, as in, “The rabbit was chased by the dog.” In terms of sentence structure, the passive voice is comprised of one of the ‘to be’ verb forms, coupled with a past participle.  

Active Voice offers us a more involving, livelier, and dramatic read. Passive voice is wordier, and we are kept at arm’s length from the action. Although there are exceptions to every rule, active voice is generally preferable to the passive voice when it comes to story-telling.

Imagine me walking around in a slush pile ‘dump’. Which would be clearer?
Not looking where she was going because she was explaining active voice, Susan stumbled over a derelict refrigerator and then became entangled in some mattress springs.
Or,
The refrigerator was stumbled over by poor Susan, as passive voice was the topic of which she was blathering on about at the moment, after which some mattress springs also proved to be painful and inconvenient.
Voice also refers to a writer's style of story-telling, but I'm not going into that for this post. 

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