Sunday, December 27, 2009

Passive Voice Has Been Ruthlessly Exterminated From Your Writing

If you didn't get the awful joke in the title of this post, or if you aren't quite sure what passive voice is, here's a simple example of an active voice construction reworded into passive voice:

1) Bob wrote the article.
2) The article was written by Bob.

In the first sentence, the subject (Bob) did something. In the second sentence, the subject (the article) had something done to it. That's the essential difference between passive and active voice.

Note also that the first sentence is much tighter and clearer than the second sentence.

Passive voice is a frequent sin of bad writing. If your writing tends to be dense, complicated or convoluted, it's highly likely that you have a habit of thinking and writing in passive voice. Strip down your sentences into simpler forms, omit needless words, and train yourself to recognize passive voice.

And then ruthlessly exterminate it from your writing. We'll talk more about passive voice in the next few posts.