Is Passive Voice something you use Too Much?

Passive voice is something that needs to be discussed. In general terms for the reader, it is something that is not liked. As a writer, we find too often that we are doing this and sometimes it is something that is not seen. Yet, when we read it through we discover that it doesn’t really work. When there is too much of it we can find that it will be a little bit annoying. It starts to be irritating to read and could be a distraction from the story.

Let’s rewrite that…

We need to talk about passive voice. As readers, we do not like it but as writers it is too easy to fall into that trap. It is something that we do quite early in our writing experiments and unfortunately, it is one of those habits that stick with us. It can be irritating and distract from the enjoyment of a story.

I hope that top paragraph was as frustrating for you to read as it was for me to write. It took a lot of effort to go against my natural tendency to write in an active tone and present such a passive approach! Yet even when we are conscious of it we still make that mistake. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Characters should be doing things rather than having things done to them. I am writing this blog post on my laptop – my laptop is not having things written on it. Though it is not often grammatically incorrect, it is more often that it looks wrong and doesn’t flow so well.

Grammar Girl elaborates further including some very good examples of when passive voice is desirable or even the only method that works (science witing and crime reports).

4 thoughts on “Is Passive Voice something you use Too Much?

  1. Matt

    I agree. The first big step I made in becoming a professional writer was eliminating passive voice. My writing improved immensely.

  2. The Diesel-Electric Elephant Company

    There is truth in what you say. Passive voice is going to have to be used a lot less by me.

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