I gave a presentation on editing at my local RWA chapter this weekend, and from some of the remarks in the room, I gather there's a lot of people who hear "Writing is passive", but they don't exactly know how to identify it or how to fix the problem. This is, coincidentally, one of the things that I see predominantly in the work I freelance edit for Finish The Story.
Let me also add in that there are numerous ways writing can be passive. This is one format, and one tip to fixing. I'll address some others over my weekly topics.
So let's look:
"The moon was rising on the horizon, it's pale light a silver blanket on the field of wheat."
"The foxes were grouped together beneath the rock, and the eldest was sticking his tongue out at the youngest."
What's wrong with these sentences? If you know, skip the lesson and go write some more words in that work in progress!
On the surface, they appear vivid, they're descriptive, and the grammatical structure is correct. But both of these sentences are passive. How so?
The "was" + "ing" combination.
Authors are told to stay away from was. Yes, this is true, but it's impossible to write was. The bigger issue comes with 'was' + 'ing' -- when it comes to passive writing. (There are other ways 'was' negatively impacts writing.)
When you link was with an 'ing' verb, it automatically becomes passive. The best fix for this is to replace that combination with the past tense. Your sentence instantly becomes more active.
was risingrose on the horizon, it's pale light a silver blanket on the field of wheat."
were groupedgrouped together beneath the rock, and the eldest was stickingstuck his tongue out at the youngest."
See you next week!