1. chrismackey

    chrismackey New Member

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    Is this sentence considered passive?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by chrismackey, Jan 10, 2019 at 1:02 PM.

    Lightning flickered in the gray horizon, accompanied by a lingering thunderclap.

    I wouldn't think so since lightning is the subject, but I might hire someone on Fiverr, and he said it is. Any help would be appreciated.
     
  2. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    No. The one verb in the sentence, flickered, IS in active voice. But the thunder only appears in a modifier phrase, and flickered isn't a particularly vivid or evocative verb.

    Compare to:
    By removing modifiers and selecting stronger verbs, I put more emphasis on the action. You could then add more modifiers to THAT to express the rolling nature of the thunder, but at the risk of diluting the impact of the verbs. I considered removing the gray horizon, but left it for now. You could instead follow up with a description of the dark, threatening horizon and the after-echoes of the thunderclap, while retaining the initial impact of the opening (signature) sentence.
     
  3. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    "Hire" someone for what?

    Please don't say copy editing!
     
  4. chrismackey

    chrismackey New Member

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    Thanks very much, Cogito. :)
     
  5. chrismackey

    chrismackey New Member

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    Hey Tenderiser. Yeah, I had doubts about my MS and thought of hiring someone from there, but I've since decided against it.
     
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  6. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    :agreed:
     
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  7. Tristan's Opa

    Tristan's Opa Member Supporter

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    What about:

    Fingers of lightning arced on the horizon, a visual emphasis of the reverberating echos of thunder.

    ?? This is also for my education as well. So please comment! ;)

    FYI, @Cogito, I do like your comment and explanation.
     
  8. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That works. It's more lyrical than my version. I prefer a concise punch, personally, for impact, but that's largely a matter of personal style. I would remove either reverberating or echoes from your version (redundant; I'd probably remove echoes of).
     
  9. chrismackey

    chrismackey New Member

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    Hey Cogito,
    Do you edit manuscripts? If so, how much would you charge for a 53,000-word project? It's fiction
     
  10. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    This really isn't the way to find a good editor (and neither is Fiverr). You're going to get scammed to high heaven if you don't slow down and do some due diligence.

    Firstly, why are you looking for an editor?

    Secondly, what type of editing are you looking for?

    Thirdly, how would you tell a good editor from a bad one?

    (To clarify, I'm not saying Cogito will scam you! I would tell you this no matter who you had asked. As far as I know, there isn't a single professional editor on this forum.)
     
  11. chrismackey

    chrismackey New Member

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    Thanks for the info, Tenderiser
     
  12. Tristan's Opa

    Tristan's Opa Member Supporter

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    Thanks! Great advice.
     
  13. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Senior Member

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    I think I see the confusion. There's actually good reason for it . . . I'll break this down into the obvious answer (I) and then the answer you don't care about (II) and possibly (III).

    First, ignore "accompanied by a lingering thunderclap" because that is a participial phrase acting as an adjective. It describes the lightning. There is no verb there. "Accompanied" is a participle acting as the head of a phrase.

    You're left with:

    Lightning flickered in the gray horizon.​

    (I)

    I think most people will tell you that that's active because "lightning" is the subject and it's doing the action. That's the simple answer, and I guess from the perspective of a writer, it's what we care about. As our default, we want the subject to be in motion, which is what this is.

    (II)

    But, if you're looking at the grammar, there are problems making this more complicated that it seems. And maybe we don't care about those, because for us, all that's important is the feel of the sentence.

    The problem is "transitive verb." Flickered is not a transitive verb, at least not how it's used here. Transitive verbs always need objects. The subject acts upon an object. The motion of the verb goes from the subject and across (hence, transitive) the verb to a target. "In the gray horizon" won't cut it, that's just a preposition. (There are some asides for that that I'll skip.) So this type of sentence can't be said to have a voice. The verb is called "intransitive complete." The action ends upon the verb.

    Aside: the other case is "intransitive linking," as in: He is happy. This also cannot be said to be active or passive. It describes a state of being, which is rather static.

    So if you asked me, "Grammatically, is this passive?," I would say no, but it's not active. It's intransitive complete and there isn't a concept of voice there. Voice (active/passive) is a quality belonging to transitive verbs.

    (III)

    But, you say, nobody likes that answer because we've changed what voice is. Nobody thinks about transitive verbs when they talk about active/passive, they're just talking about the subject performing an action, which this sentence does. It's kind of like how these days "literally" means "figuratively," and so you just have to go with the flow. I'll do that here and point out that there is one other option.

    Lightning flickered in the gray horizon.​

    The lightning is doing the flickering, so it's active. But, if you really think about it, the lightning is also being flickered. It's receiving an action and the subject is in motion by the verb, though there's no object after the verb to cause it. So your third option makes the voice mediopassive, which is a little bit active and a little bit passive.

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/mediopassive-middle-voice-usage-verbs

    Using the modern (loose) approach, that's what I would choose for this grammatically, a none-of-the-above answer. I think that maybe your reader was looking at that, but probably he/she skimmed and saw "accompanied by a blah blah blah" and just assumed passive. Those things happen.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019 at 5:10 PM
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  14. chrismackey

    chrismackey New Member

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    Seven Crowns, thanks for the very detailed explanation. I appreciate it a lot! :)
     
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  15. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'm chiming in here to note that passive voice is not inherently bad.
     
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  16. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I do not. Nor do I recommend hiring someone for that purpose. You'll learn best by doing, and when you begin to get good enough to start submitting, you'll get schooled for free by the responses you receive.
     
  17. big soft moose

    big soft moose All killer, no filler. Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Unless of course you are going to self publish in which case you do need to hire an editor, but should do so after you have self edited and got it as tight as you can (and still don't use fiverr)

    On point I don't have see particular issue with flickered - not every verb has to be strong and punchy it depends on the mood of the piece but shouldn't it be flickered on the horizon rather than in it.

    I also can't get too excited about passive vs active anyway, all that really matters is does it read well... eliminating passive voice is one of those rules which is brandished about by people who don't really understand writing (much like show don't tell) my general feeling is that rules are for the guidance of wise men but the blind obedience of fools
     
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  18. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you're self-publishing, you can do whatever you want. I still don't recommend hiring an editor, because someone who rewrites for you, even if you have to rubber-stamp every change, alters your style.

    You'll probably encounter agents and publishers who want to do just that, inject their own style into your writing. You'll have to decide whether it's more important to get their approval or to retain your unique voice. Just keep an open enough mind to decide whether they are making a suggestion that enhances your writing or just makes it more generic. You may lose opportunities that way, but nobody ever said it was easy.
     
  19. big soft moose

    big soft moose All killer, no filler. Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I'm sorry but that's terrible advice

    Editing is an essential part of producing a decent readable book - its not about rewriting for you its about telling you where rewrites are needed, and if you want to be published trad or self sooner or later your work is going to have to be edited... if you go the self route you pay for it, if you go the trad route your publisher pays, but it still has to happen and a decent editor doesn't 'inject their own style'

    Putting out unedited work is what gave self publishers a bad name in the early days.

    Of course if you don't care about getting published and are just writing for fun then there's no need for editing... and as far as the OP is concerned he doesn't need an editor yet … but advising people not get edited at all... :eek:
     
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