Not every sentence you write has to be in active voice. Writers have been told time and time again that using active voice is vital to writing. And it is. A sentence with an “active voice” is basically a sentence in which the subject performs the action. Conversely, in sentences with passive voice, the subject is passive, or acted upon. For example:
Active voice: Jack threw the ball.
Passive voice: The ball was thrown by Jack.
Both sentences mean the same thing, but sentences with active voice are vivid and have energy, directness; they are less wordy and get their point across in a nice, tidy wallop.
However, that is not to say that every sentence of your novel has to be in active voice. I’m a believer that passive voice has a useful and necessary place. When I spot a sentence written in passive voice in my writing (or others’, if I’m editing), most of the time my tendency is to change it to active voice. But sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I like the way it sounds and think it works for what’s trying to be said. Sometimes I want to de-emphasize, or avoid completely, the agent performing the action.
Just like the first unbolded sentence of this blog post.
But you’ll find that too many of these sentences makes for dull, lifeless narratives, so be aware of how frequently you use passive voice. But do use it from time to time. Trust me, it’s okay.
What do you think? Do you check your writing for sentences written in active and passive voice?