Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Quick Question Tuesday

What's your opinion on this grammar topic?

Is Passive Voice Ever Okay?

Some editors claim passive voice is akin to anthrax. Some authors, however, use it in almost every sentence (including some best selling novelists).

I've cut hundreds of instances of passive voice in my current work in progress, but I've also left many alone. In many cases, I feel it just sounds better to use "was" than turn the sentence around so that all the focus is on some object in a way it wasn't intended to be. I think bumbling up the flow of a book, just to appease the grammar gods, is silly.

What do you think?


Emily said...

I write in first person, so if my voice is ever passive, it's on purpose. I do find there are moments when my character feels passive, and the sentence develops in turn. All in all, I think it's a matter of style. Are you a direct person? Then you'll probably write directly. If you're always beating around the bush, you'll write passively, and prefer others who do as well. It's a matter of taste, not grammar...at least to me.

Kasey @ The Beautiful Thrifty Life said...

I think that there are a lot of traditional grammar rules that are becoming just that- traditional. Passive voice is one of them. Writing is now being more widely accepted as an art form (hello, passive voice!), and I think that to limit the artist is to limit the art. The passive voice is just another medium within the world of prose. I do believe, however, that it is more suited for entertainment/fictional writing than for journalism (the point of journalism is to directly answer the questions of who, what, when, why, where, and how), and I think it can also be easily overused (by me!). But as you can see, I for one am happy to utilize its vague and mysterious connotations. :-)

Kaylee Baldwin said...

I think passive voice used minimally is okay. I don't like reading something that is too passive because it doesn't seem as vibrant. "Was" can get old real quick. I read a book, though, where the author tried to take out every passive sentence she had, and the result was awkward. Majorly awkward. I think authors can have a good blend of active and passive voice in thier writing and it will be stronger for using both in the most appropriate place for them.

Anna said...

Although there is need for grammar structure and not changing POV an insane amount, I tend to think that writing is kind of a "to each his own" thing.

As long as the plot and characters are interesting and the story flows alright, I don't think the way you tell the story matter much. Certain styles or writing might sell better though.

Steven Whibley said...

I think some passive writing is just fine. I read a lot of books and there are always passive passages. If it works, it works.

Nice looking blog, btw!