Friday, January 26, 2007

Passive voice

I'm working on a requested partial. The book is done, but will get some more brushing up after the partial heads out the door. As I work on this and make every word count, and bring out the emotion and angst of the main characters, and stay true to my tone, a wonderful CP noticed some uses of passive voice that had slipped by me.

Why did they slip by, you ask? Because I was trying so hard to stay with the "flavor" of the story I thought they sounded lyrical. Huh?? You say. Lyrical, I thought you were writing a book not a song. I am writing a book. A book about the song of life for a people's way of life. Yet, as I sought out the passive words and phrases, I realized the stronger wording is better.

It pays to keep an open mind when having your work critiqued.

Do you keep an open mind over an evaluation of your writing? Some times I'm taken back at first. No, I don't do that. Or but it sounds better my way. But if I give it a rest, and then really look at what is suggested, 75% of the time, I'll fix it and it is better!


Anonymous said...

Paty, congratulations on the request! Here's hoping they love it and request the full. For me, passive voice was one of the hardest craft issues to learn to recognize. To answer your question, I've learned more from having my work critiqued and from critiquing others, and recognizing that I was doing the same thing in my own writing, than I have from all the how-to books out there. It's so much easier to spot these issues in someone else's work than to see it in our own. Here's something I now do as part of my writing routine. When I finish a chapter, I run a complete spell & grammar check. If you use Word (and you probably already know this), after the grammar check is complete, it shows your readability stats which includes the ratio of passive voice. Anything over 1 or 2 per cent and I go back and start searching out some of those bad boys. I don't know how precise this function is, but it's still a very good tool if you're concerned about passive voice. :o)


Paty Jager said...

Thanks Irma! No, I don't use the grammar check with Word because our chapter had the person who made that program at a meeting, and he said it is not a good thing to go by.

So I depend on my catching it or my CP's catching it. Luckily my CP's are wonderful!

Danita Cahill said...

Paty, glad you took the critiquing in the manner I meant it -- love, baby. Love. Ha!

Actually, after I said that about passive voice, I did think about the Native American tone and wondered if sometimes it was almost necessary to use passive to have that voice come through. But I figured you'd take a look at it and decide for yourself.

Best of luck with the request. Fingers are firmly crossed.

Anonymous said...

ROFL... 75% of the time. That cracked me up!