Archive Post – To Passive or Not to Passive

Here is an interesting issue!

Should you use passive voice in your fiction?

( A brief explanation)

Shakespeare wrote Macbeth.  – Normal, Active sentence.  The Subject, in this case the Bard, is doing the action.
Macbeth was written by Shakespeare.  Passive sentence.  The Subject (Macbeth – the book, not the character) is recieving the action of being written.

Every guide, tutorial, diatribe, sermon or tome related to writting says this is BAD.  BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD.

Hmmmmm.  More food for thought.

So when is it acceptable?
In my humble opinion – and here, if you are actually a fan, potential fan, critic, hater, troll or whatever of the ebooks I have / am / will be publishing on AMAZON, you can jump in and tell me either that.
A.  Your writing sucks.  Get a day job.
B.  I like your writing but no…….Passive voice is still BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD and I use it too much.
C.  You agree with my exceptions to the BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD rule.

First off, I ignore all advice from all writer when dialogue is involved.  People speak the way they speak so if I use an adverb (also considered BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD) it is because I want to make the conversation seem like words that a real person might have spoken.  This applies to passive voice.

Second, there are some structures that almost exclusively work in Passive.

To be born
To be / get married.

Third, adjective phrases apprear to be and really are just passive in disguise.

I am tired.
Hence, Something has tired me.
Active Passive.

Finally, if I want to show that my character was not in control, I let passive stay.
Bill was fired from his job.  OK, so maybe Bill looks like a big loser at this point but then again, maybe he stood up to the boss and got fired for noble reasons.  Plays well both ways.  The boss fired Bill.  I don’t see that as a stronger sentence per se and it is not the way people speak the English language (at least not on my ranch)

Anyway, My Opinion.  How you feel about it (Again, Mr. King HATES passive voice – no passive is his mantra) is up to you.  I would say I’m 85% against and 15% for, depending on the situation.

What do you think?

David Gordon Burke
Find my Books here.  


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