|That's passive! From Anne Chadwick Williams.com|
Bleeding from the eyeballs hampered my ability to write this post.
My ability to write this post was hampered by the blood streaming from my eyes
Writing this post, I was hampered by the blood streaming from my eyes.
I was hampered by the blood streaming from my eyes, when I wrote this post.
I spent the afternoon using FIND to hunt down and eliminate clunky past tense constructions in my novel. The aim was to make sure I was writing in the active voice, rather than slipping into passive.
Active voice emphasises the doer:
Selene wielded the gnarled branch high.
The passive voice moves the focus of a sentence away from the doer:
The emphasis in the passive voice is always on what is happening, not who is doing it.
The gnarled branch was wielded high.
The gnarled branch was wielded high by Selene.
Passive voice has its uses (humour amongst them,) but, nothing beats the active construction.
It is best to write in active voice when possible. If you want to identify a sentence written in the passive voice, watch out for these keywords (remember the eyes bleeding thing?) :
In order to change passive voice to active voice, you need to know who or what the subject of the sentence is and then rewrite the sentence so the subject is before the object.
You can simplify the writing in past tense verb forms too – present :
ACTIVE: I taught PASSIVE: was (have been) taught [by someone];
ACTIVE: I learned PASSIVE: It was (has been) learned [by someone].
THE ADVICE IS ALWAYS: SIMPLIFY AND MAKE IT ACTIVE
I could only shrug; I had been too wrapped up in sickly, nervous tension to pay much attention to the words coming out of his mouth.
I shrugged. (Wrapped in sickly, nervous tension,) I’d paid no attention to the words coming out of his mouth
(Some times pluperfect in disguise - I’d/I had - is the answer too)
A small dictionary, and old encyclopaedia and several Internet sites were harmed, in the making of this blogpost.