Friday, July 28, 2017

Active and passive is often the difference between published and not.

Active writing is more interesting than passive writing.

New writers often make the mistake of casting their characters as the passive RECIPIENTS of some activity, when they should write about people DOING THINGS, MAKING THINGS HAPPEN.

The difference between active and passive is often the difference between published and not.

Passive voice is:
"The Christmas present given to Frank was an electric guitar."
Active voice is:
"Frank got an electric guitar for Christmas."

"The result of the accident was many injuries for Bertha."
"When the car crashed, Bertha broke her arm, twisted her neck, and dislocated her hip."

One key to finding the active voice is to write about people, not things.
For example, "A good time was had by all," is a passive-voice sentence about good times. 
"Everybody had a good time," is an active-voice sentence about PEOPLE. 

The tip-off to these dull, passive-voice sentences is usually a compound verb such as "was driven" or "were presented."

Cash them in for sharp, short, interesting, active verbs, and your writing will work better.

Strong verbs are verbs that are active, vivid, specific, and familiar. They are the engine that runs your prose.

Don't use vague verbs that are boosted by adverbs.

Don't write: "Buster ate his kitty treats quickly."
Write: "Buster gobbled his kitty treats."

Don't use weak, general verbs like "walk," "cry," "fall," and "touch," if the situation calls for "plod," "weep," "collapse," and "caress."

Another way to avoid passive and write actively is to SAY THINGS IN A POSITIVE WAY.  If you write about two men exploring a cave and you write:

"There was no light in the cave," the first thing the reader will see is the light that's not there. You are writing in a negative way; you are telling the reader what is not true.

But if you write in a positive way, "The cave was dark," you communicate to the reader what you're really trying to: darkness. Writing about what is or was true usually creates a clearer, more interesting picture than writing about what isn't or wasn't true. It works better.

Which do you see more clearly? (Rhetorical question)
"He was not a generous man." or "He was a miser"?
"The painting had no flaws." or "It was a masterpiece."
Tell the readers the truth.  Tell them what you WANT them to see, not what you DON'T want them to see.

Above from the book NOVEL SECRETS, available for Kindle for only $.99 cents:

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