1. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    Active or Passive

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Leaka, Feb 8, 2009.

    [Didn't know where to put this thread, lol! So I put it here]

    What do you like active voice or passive voice?
    Do you write in passive or active?

    Personally, I don't like passive. It just sounds so yuck. And it really has no action towards it:

    The ball was kicked by John.

    Sounds boring and doesn't sound very fun.
    I only write in active and I have realized that.
    Do you think it's essential for a writer to write both?
     
  2. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Balance between the two is best for me. Also, there is a place for each in literature and when they are inserted in the right spots, the reading flows better. Many, if not most, people speak naturally in passive voice...usually in direct relationship to their educational levels. So, if your dialog is to sound realistic, it should reflect the speaking patterns typical for that character's socioeconomic-educational level. That can even be used to create subtle undercurrents between characters. For example, a server in a cheap sit-down diner might speak with an elegance that is out of character, and noticed by the patron. Subsequent conversation reveals that the waiter or waitress holds a Masters Degree in English but has been unable to find employment...or better yet, she betrays her secret life as a spy in Washington DC when the two Russian diplomats notice that her language is out of character for the typical waitress.

    Ultimately, passive or active is a writing choice to be made with care and intention.
     
  3. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    My preference is first-person present tense. Doesn't get more active, 'right now, in the moment' then that.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i like best whichever works best in the context within which it is used...
     
  5. Evil Ferret of Randomness
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    Evil Ferret of Randomness Member

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    I prefer passive. I have no clue why, I just do. I have done some stuff with active, and such. However, I will, never, ever, under any circumstances, do present tense!
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    bless you, efor!!! [if only that were a communicable disease you could spread to all beginning writers ;-( ]
     
  7. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Marina I like the new avatar.

    I believe you could still write passive sentences in first person present tense.

    The ball is kicked by me.

    I kick the ball.

    The pencil did stick in his eye.

    I stick the pencil in his eye.

    Wow, that was morbid, lol.
     
  8. Evil Ferret of Randomness
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    Evil Ferret of Randomness Member

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    Why would you wish to spread, to me, a disease!?

    That was morbid. XD
    And, I wasn't stating it was impossible, I was simply stating I hate 1st person and present tense equally as much as I hate Twilight, and the Saw series... Which is a LOT!
     
  9. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    But look at this prose. It's active and energetic. Me like. :D [Also, check out this excerpt from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. It totally works with the first-person, present-tense narrator: http://www.teenreads.com/reviews/9780439023481-excerpt.asp]

     
  10. Evil Ferret of Randomness
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    Evil Ferret of Randomness Member

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    ...
    >_>
    ...
    I forgot what I was arguing. >_<
    XD
     
  11. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Marina I read the first few pages of The Hunger Game at Amazon. I am going to end up reading it for sure, but it did take me a few pages to get used to the present tense. I have no idea why the writer did that. I almost didn't give it a chance.

    I just have to find the time to fit it into my reading list, wee. I wanted to thank you for recommending it.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    doesn't read well to me, at all... i've no idea why anyone would want to write in first/present, as it doesn't engage the reader and is next to never done well, even by otherwise good writers...
     
  13. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is this a new phenomenon - writers writing in 1st person, present tense? I'm seeing it more and more, but I think it's really only in newer books where I find it. I guess I'm just used to various narrative voices and can just adjust to whatever the writer's giving me. With The Hunger Games, when I looked at Amazon I didn't see reviewers having a problem w/it, plus the book's gotten kudos from a lot of big writers.
     
  14. rdwriter
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    rdwriter New Member

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    I tend to be an "active voice" kind of girl, although the passive voice does have it's place. But if I were to choose one over the other, I'd choose active.
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Active voice is generally stronger and more vibrant, so I generally prefer it. However. passive voice exists for a reason. I wouldn't blingly eliminate passive voice from ever sentence of a story, but I try to make sure I use it purposefully.
     
  16. stonecold
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    stonecold Member

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    What is active and passive sentences?
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    active:
    The boy took the book from the girl.

    passive:
    The book was taken from the girl, by the boy.
     
  18. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    I would never write a book fully in the present tense, but I can readily see how it can be used in shorter spurts.

    I was reading one book which was, in the first chapter, in the 'present,' so we see the main character writing down his history.
    Then, it switches to past tense, where we read the history.

    Very interesting.
    Anyway, I find it easy to be engaged by any tense, as long as it is well written.
     
  19. LeoMars
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    LeoMars Member

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    Nothing wrong with passive voice if used with restraint.
     
  20. LeoMars
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    LeoMars Member

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    I cannot agree more. When active voice fails, use passive voice.
     
  21. Sophronia
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    Sophronia Member

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    I prefer active voice over passive, although there can be instances where passive voice can be used effectively, like in describing a serious event or accident. The reason why I try to avoid passive voice, however, is because I want the characters, things, etc. in my writing to act instead of being acted upon.
    *Is grateful for The Lively Art of Writing*
     
  22. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    I cannot help but wonder how many of you are agreeing out of sheer principle, and which know exactly what they are saying.

    The reason I wonder this is because, I never notice active and passives voices. I have NEVER known. Even when I learned the difference, I never consider whether a sentence was active or passive. It goes RIGHT passed me.

    I should, perhaps, be more studious in my noticing of the two voices.
     

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