When to use the active and passive voices.

Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by theEnglishMage, Dec 29, 2016.

  1. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    ...by zombies.

    And we all know zombies can't be trusted, so...
     
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  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Zombie and facehuggers. ;)
     
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  3. Villion_
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    Villion_ Member

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    The question whether the passive voice should be used by me or not is entirely upon my discretion. I can't be prevailed upon either by zombies or whoever it be whose sole intention can be said to be that clarity be preferred to ambiguity.
     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    @waitingforzion? Is that you?
     
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  5. Villion_
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    Villion_ Member

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    Sorry, I am not.
     
  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, that's just what @waitingforzion would say... only he'd probably use a few more words...
     
  7. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    I'm clearly missing some forum lore here, was @waitingforzion banned by zombies
     
  8. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think he's been banned. He was just VERY fond of using overly complicated phrasing regardless of actual meaning. Take a look at his posts and you'll get the idea.
     
  9. Villion_
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    Villion_ Member

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    I have taken a look at his posts and found no overly complicated phrasing. Maybe that was because I only took a look. But really it would be trying to peruse someone else's posts to get the idea of his being fond of a particular kind of phrasing. He seemed to be possessed by the idea of writing a long beautiful sentence however. Many a writer is. But the candor with which he confesses it makes him interesting.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2017
  10. theEnglishMage
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    theEnglishMage New Member

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    Thank you all so much for your help! The information is helpful and I understand a lot better. As for an example, here is an excerpt from a story for a fiction workshop in my creative writing class. My Professor had a pet peeve about the word "was" and advised me to be careful with the use of it, he didn't necessarily say that my use of their voice was wrong.

    "Ol’ Luckies was a twenty four hour convenience store that sat on the very edge of New Dawn, Rhode Island. It was about ten miles away from the abandoned lighthouse and the last piece of civilization travelers see before heading off to the tourist attraction. It was ten miles away from the party Alice had invited Dean to. It was also the closest store that sold condoms. It was half past eight as Dean stood in front of the health and wellness aisle deciding which ones to buy. The sun outside slowly slided down the sky. He stared into the shelves picking up boxes, reading the labels quickly, and then returning it to the shelf, as the cashier next him to stocked merchandise."
     
  11. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that's more an issue of repetitive sentence structure rather than passive voice. I think there's nothing wrong with "was", but I think starting almost every sentence with "it was" gets tedious. I think you can clear this up by looking for different ways to start your sentences. I think you've included some good details, but I think you should spend a bit more time on the wording.

    That's what I think!
     
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  12. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I would say, then, that more than anything, your professor was perhaps pointing out an unnecessary repetition of construction with that It was heading enough of the sentences in this paragraph to call attention to itself. These are all, in fact, categorical phrases you've created, and the whole could do with some variation of structure.

    ETA: @BayView ninjad me. :-D
     
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  13. theEnglishMage
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    theEnglishMage New Member

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    Very good point Wreybies and BayView! Thanks.
     
  14. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    A challenge should be accepted to write a story entirely in passive voice.
     
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  15. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    The story should be written by ZOMBIES!
     
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  16. Villion_
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    Villion_ Member

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    Are zombies those curious homunculi against whom precautions are taken in the form of small boxes whenever you want to registed with the inscription "show that you are not a robot" and funny pictures that you have to choose?
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
  17. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't see any passive voice at all in that paragraph. I do agree that it's repetitive.
     
  18. Inktail
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    Inktail Member

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    Without passive voice, I feel like every sentence would be They did that, They did this, bla bla, it makes the book somehow poor and unprofessional. But in action like fights, active voice should be used. But, what if written third person limited? She hits is active, She was hit by something is passive, but it's her POV. :confused:
     
  19. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not every sentence has to start with "she" or "they", though. So instead of "She was hit by something" it could be "Something hit her." Good to mix up the sentence structure as a general rule.

    But I think it's a mistake to equate the "active" part of "active voice" with any sort of more exciting writing. I think there'd be a lot less clarity over "passive voice" and "active voice" as grammatical structures if they'd just been called something else!
     
  20. Inktail
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    I do mix, it's very important. But same voice can also feel repeated.
     
  21. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Do you really think anybody notices if a whole scene/chapter/whatever is in active voice? I very much doubt it, because we're used to reading active voice.
     
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  22. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know I'm repetitive here, but I strongly suspect that you're misunderstanding passive voice. There are countless ways to form sentences, without "they did..." and without passive voice. You may be going on the false idea that forms of "to be" always/usually mean passive voice.

    Edited to add: You don't need "she was hit" just because you're in her point of view. You can't describe what she can't see or perceive, but she can certainly perceive being hit.

    She felt a stunning blow from behind.

    Mary slapped her across the face.

    The tomato hit her squarely on the face.
     
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