30 Days of Writing Tips – Day 26 – Use An Active Voice

by Anne Wayman

writer's pencilAudrey Owen, the great editor who writes and blogs at Writer’s Helper, has the best explanation of the difference between the active and passive voices I’ve ever seen. It’s her tip #10

Although she’s also got a bit of a technical explanation, it’s her example I love:

Active - The boy hit the ball.

Passive - The ball was hit by the boy.

The active voice is so much stronger. As a reader I love it; as a writer I know I slip into the passive voice out of laziness or fatigue.


Take time to find your passive voice writing and change it to active voice. You and your readers will be glad you did.

30 Days of Writing Tips Archive

Write well and often,

Anne

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Image from http://www.sxc.hu

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ellie June 2, 2011 at 12:54 pm

I once worked as a letter writer for a big insurance company. There was a group of us who’s job was to write letters to disgruntled, probelmatic or inquiring customers. The rule was to write entirely in passive voice because that softened the blow (too often that’s what it was) and obfuscated the bad news. Clarity was not the goal, but putting distance between the company and the customer seemed to be. I lasted about 6 months, lol!

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annew June 2, 2011 at 1:17 pm

I don’t know why we’re laughing–good to get it confirmed. Government must give classes on obfuscation!

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