The deal on Passive Voice...

ctg

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Hex is absolutely right. You can use passive voice wherever you want, but as soon as you start adding character actions, your narrative has to become more active or you will lose all tension from the play. The readers will read the story as if you're not interested enough to tell them that this is important.
 

lonewolfwanderer

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So in the action scenes you would stick with active voice? Awesome!

My word processor brings your attention to passive voice, and i've changed a few (reads better now too), but there are a few, where i can't think what to change it- no matter how i read it, the passive sounds better.

Thanks for the clarity!
 

lonewolfwanderer

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Ye i figured that out (but didn't see the post:confused:), it's pretty obvious once you realize it. But, for the hell of it, i will post a line, where i used passive voice, I've changed it now, but I personally prefer the original.

"and she realized it for the first time- he was torn up inside, and alone."

The "torn up" for me, is stronger, than the "hurting", i think. However, being that it is amidst action, I've had to change it for:

"and she realized it for the first time- he is hurting inside, and alone."
 

Hex

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I prefer your original version. It tells me more. "Hurting" is a weaker way of saying the same thing, and I think in this, the trade-off to switch to something more active isn't worth making.
 

ctg

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Descriptions in the active sentences can be passive, as all descriptive pieces can be written beautifully with passive words. So don't be scared to listen what your muse says to you and just let the strongest feelings appear on the pages of your manuscripts.
 

TheDustyZebra

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Yes, keep the original.

That's not a spot where you need active, but the change didn't really make it active anyway.

"Was torn up" and "is hurting" are both passive, as the verb is a form of "to be".

"He hurts inside" would be active. But it wouldn't be better.
 

tinkerdan

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A lot depends on what this sentence wants to say:
"and she realized it for the first time- he is hurting inside, and alone."

Is it that she realizes it for the first time...
Or that for the first time he is hurting...
or does that matter?
It might be better to just say; "and she realized, he's hurt and alone."

Sometimes we choose many words to say something that is as easily said in few.

Other times those words are important, or very important, or extremely very important. And it's not the passivity it's the careless use af adverbs and adjectives that tend to slow the whole piece down.
 

lonewolfwanderer

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A lot depends on what this sentence wants to say:


Is it that she realize it for the first time
Or that for the first time he is hurting
or does that matter
It might be better to just say "and she realized, he's hurt and alone."

Sometimes we choose many words to say something that is as easily said in few.

Other times those words are important, or very important, or extremely very important. And it's not the passivity it's he careless use af adverbs and adjectives that tend to slow the whole piece down.

ye, in that sentence, she is realizing for the first time that he is hurting and alone.

He isn't just hurting; he is "torn up" and is having to deal with it all himself, and in that one sentence i am wanting to convey that, the intensity of that moment, and what he is feeling.
 
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Brian G Turner

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Some places say Passive Voice is acceptable, where others don't. So my question here is:

Is it allowed or acceptable, or do most novelists avoid it? How about in First Person narrative?

I think the problem is where someone uses passive voice without realising that they're doing it. The result is weakened narrative as protagonists are acted upon by things, instead of acting upon them. IMO. :)
 

Teresa Edgerton

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Another, and perhaps bigger, problem is word processors that try to teach you how to write!

(Although I agree with what Brian just said.)
 

lonewolfwanderer

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Another, and perhaps bigger, problem is word processors that try to teach you how to write!

(Although I agree with what Brian just said.)

I agree. It's irritating when something that works gets picked up... However, i do find it helpful as it can pick up, and make you aware, of where you've used passive voice, among other things.
 

Erin99

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Can I be annoying and say that both your sentences aren't passive? (Your grammar checker isn't always reliable. The same as it gets mixed up when people write colloquially, as in, "He was sat" - it doesn't think you've written as people sometimes speak it - "was sat" instead of "was sitting", which is proper grammar - it thinks, "Oh, this person meant, 'He was sat down by X' - and so tells you it's passive, because in that case it WOULD be passive.)

I used to give the advice, "Never use a form of 'to be' as it is passive", but, tbh, I was bad saying that. Brian has the right of it. AND not every instance of "is", "are", etc., is passive, and people sometimes get too carried away looking for passives when the sentence (even if passive) is perfectly correct and says what it needs to.

Anyway, think about it:

The sun is shining. That's not passive. That's just present progressive tense. How do you know this? Well, you could equally say: The sun shines, which has the same meaning.

The same as in these kinds of constructions and declarations:

Clouds ARE white.

I AM alive.

My boots ARE dirty.

The cat WAS purring.

(All are active. :))

As regards your first version, what the grammar checker is doing is thinking you're trying to say, "The man was torn up by someone/something else". It doesn't realise that "torn up" doesn't have to be used in that way, although you could argue that people are torn up by grief, indecision, etc, which is implied. "I am torn" is a valid expression that doesn't have to have any qualifiers. Think, "I am torn between going left or right" - that's active; you couldn't say "Going left or right tears me"!

There's not much online about your specific example, tricky as it is, but I did find this in a book teaching grammar to Greeks: "In the same manner are to be explained in Greek the few instances where single tenses of a verb have in the Active form a Passive signification; especially some Perfects: I am torn or broken in pieces."

That's how I read your line, anyway. Others may disagree. You've adjective-ised your verb**, "torn", like you could say "A torn man" instead of "He was torn". Lookup "past-participle adjectives". You've also turned your verb, "torn", into a noun, by making the tearing into a state or feeling ("He felt torn").

What I have a problem with is that you've switched tenses. Your first version is past tense; in the second you've switched to present. Make sure the present tense fits with the rest of your narration! (Or is it character speech? In which case it would be fine.) :)


**idiomatic phrasal verb, in fact, that you've used intransitively (no agent specifying what's doing the tearing up).
 

lonewolfwanderer

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Can I be annoying and say that both your sentences aren't passive? (Your grammar checker isn't always reliable. The same as it gets mixed up when people write colloquially, as in, "He was sat" - it doesn't think you've written as people sometimes speak it - "was sat" instead of "was sitting", which is proper grammar - it thinks, "Oh, this person meant, 'He was sat down by X' - and so tells you it's passive, because in that case it WOULD be passive.)

I used to give the advice, "Never use a form of 'to be' as it is passive", but, tbh, I was bad saying that. Brian has the right of it. AND not every instance of "is", "are", etc., is passive, and people sometimes get too carried away looking for passives when the sentence (even if passive) is perfectly correct and says what it needs to.

Anyway, think about it:

The sun is shining. That's not passive. That's just present progressive tense. How do you know this? Well, you could equally say: The sun shines, which has the same meaning.

The same as in these kinds of constructions and declarations:

Clouds ARE white.

I AM alive.

My boots ARE dirty.

The cat WAS purring.

(All are active. :))

As regards your first version, what the grammar checker is doing is thinking you're trying to say, "The man was torn up by someone/something else". It doesn't realise that "torn up" doesn't have to be used in that way, although you could argue that people are torn up by grief, indecision, etc, which is implied. "I am torn" is a valid expression that doesn't have to have any qualifiers. Think, "I am torn between going left or right" - that's active; you couldn't say "Going left or right tears me"!

There's not much online about your specific example, tricky as it is, but I did find this in a book teaching grammar to Greeks: "In the same manner are to be explained in Greek the few instances where single tenses of a verb have in the Active form a Passive signification; especially some Perfects: I am torn or broken in pieces."

That's how I read your line, anyway. Others may disagree. You've adjective-ised your verb**, "torn", like you could say "A torn man" instead of "He was torn". Lookup "past-participle adjectives". You've also turned your verb, "torn", into a noun, by making the tearing into a state or feeling ("He felt torn").

What I have a problem with is that you've switched tenses. Your first version is past tense; in the second you've switched to present. Make sure the present tense fits with the rest of your narration! (Or is it character speech? In which case it would be fine.) :)


**idiomatic phrasal verb, in fact, that you've used intransitively (no agent specifying what's doing the tearing up).

Thanks for the advice! The segment where that sentence belongs, is in close third, past tense.

Asha, wondering where he was going, was surprised when she saw the old, familiar gates she had walked through countless times when her parents went to visit his, and then she realized it for the first time- he was torn up inside, and alone.
 

Erin99

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Asha!!! I had a character called Asha, once. He's now confined to the depths of embarrassing-first-drafts Hell.

Sanskrit for "hope and desire". :)


Anyway, I don't have a problem with your paragraph. Except maybe change "went to visit his" to "had visited his". Then again, I would think about strengthening it a bit (here's a rushed job):

Asha followed, curious, surprised when he passed the old, familiar gates she had walked through countless times when her parents had visited his, and she realized - for the first time - he was torn inside. Alone.


Take anything I say with a pinch of salt, though. I'm currently in a "Why do I bother?" phase with my writing.
 

lonewolfwanderer

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QUOTE=Leisha;1794414]Asha!!! I had a character called Asha, once. He's now confined to the depths of embarrassing-first-drafts Hell.

Sanskrit for "hope and desire". :)


Anyway, I don't have a problem with your paragraph. Except maybe change "went to visit his" to "had visited his". Then again, I would think about strengthening it a bit (here's a rushed job):

Asha followed, curious, surprised when he passed the old, familiar gates she had walked through countless times when her parents had visited his, and she realized - for the first time - he was torn inside. Alone.


Take anything I say with a pinch of salt, though. I'm currently in a "Why do I bother?" phase with my writing.[/QUOTE]

Haha, thanks for the advice! I haven't edited that part yet, still working on the first chapter, but i quite like your example- i might well use it, if i may?

EDIT: Asha, in my WIP, is short for Asharell lol. Don't know what it means though, just a name that popped in my head on one cold, wintery morning :D
 

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