is passive voice as bad as everyone tells?

Space_of_Writing

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Is the passive voice as bad as everyone tells…? To use active voice is beside show don’t tell maybe the most famous writing rule. But must it be so worse? Or it’s sometimes useful, too? What’s your opinion?
 

The Judge

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Are you asking because you're having problems with the passive voice and you are regularly receiving comments on it? Or are you simply looking to debate the issue? We do occasionally have such debates in GWD, but they tend to arise when the member making the post has some specific comments she wants to make, rather than just throwing it out as a topic.

With respect, I think it would help you to integrate here on Chrons if you settled down a little and participated in other threads rather than making so many of your own. Interact with us. Show that you are happy to listen and learn, not just talk at us. :)
 

tinkerdan

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Sometimes it depends on context.

For instance lets say.

Brutus stabbed Caesar. (That's active and direct.)
We could say.
Caesar was stabbed by Brutus. (This is passive and usually characterized by swapping the object and subject of the sentence.)[This can be done to emphasis the object Caesar and minimize the subject Brutus.]
You could even go so far as to say.

Caesar was stabbed. (Highlighting the importance of Caesar having been stabbed with no real need to know who preformed the action.)

In some instances this might be preferable.

They have a purpose; however some can often become so convoluted that they slow the reading down and it is important to recognize them and understand how the are affecting your writing.
 

Olon1974

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My personal feeling: passive voice makes a story sound more detached, like it just happened, meh.
Here is what web says: The passive voice is not as culturally acceptable as active in modern English writing. We prefer active sentences because they are more concrete. Passive sentences are not preferred, because we do not know who the subject is, making the whole thing more abstract. There is action, but no actor.
 

Dennis E. Taylor

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Passive voice is a style, and is noticeable. If you wrote a whole story in passive voice, it would be like writing a whole story in verse, or writing it without using any articles. If you have a reason to do that, great. For instance, bureaucratese is very passive-voice. If you were writing a story from the POV of a government functionary, it would be a neat gimmick.

But in the absence of some such reason, it would be excruciating to read.
 

Martin Gill

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Passive voice almost invariably uses more words. To take the above example active - "Brutus stabbed Caesar", vs passive "Ceasar was stabbed by Brutus" is 3 wrods vs 5 words - so generally with passive voice you are taking more time to say a thing, in a less direct manner than you would using active voice. Both those two statements are pretty simple - its way worse if you have long, more conveluted sentences. But, if you are writnig to a wordcount, every word counts, so don't waste your words on filler.
 

sknox

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With respect, I think it would help you to integrate here on Chrons if you settled down a little and participated in other threads rather than making so many of your own. Interact with us. Show that you are happy to listen and learn, not just talk at us. :)

Agreed.
 

Stephen Palmer

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Like all voices, passive voice has its place. It's a mistake to think it's somehow "wrong". I don't think it is.
New writers tend to focus much more on technique than imagination. Imagination trumps technique every time.
 

The Big Peat

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I think tinkerdan gives a good example of when it can be a good idea. Normally, it results in less interesting prose than Active, but not always.
 

MWagner

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Active voice is more clear and dynamic than passive. It's almost always the best choice. Writers should train themselves to write in active voice by default, and use passive voice only sparingly and deliberately.
 

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