Hi all...I already read a few of the other threads about passive/active voice, but I'm still confused about how hard and fast the rule is. I know Stephen King insisted in "On Writing" that you should always use active voice, but most of his work is in passive. My favorite author, Neil Gaiman, seems to just switch as it suits him. Maybe I just don't fully understand the concept. I get the difference between: John kicked the ball. The ball was kicked by John. But sometimes it gets murky, like these sentences from "American Gods": "She reached into the pocket of her blouse, and pulled out the gold coin he had thrown into the grave earlier that day. There was still black dirt on it." "If he walked, he discovered, he did not have to think, and that was just the way he liked it; when he thought, his mind went to places he could not control, places that made him feel uncomfortable. Exhaustion was the best thing." The first sentences start in active voice, then end in passive. Is it okay to use "was" if it's a direct descriptive like that? Compared to, say, "Black dirt was still sitting on it."? In the second sentences, is there even a way to actively phrase "Exhaustion was the best thing."? I don't want to obsess over this, I just notice a lot in my own writing that I have to stretch and wrangle sentences oddly sometimes to make them fit an active voice. Just how important is active voice to your chances of getting published?