Showing posts from February, 2021

Passive Writing - Should You Use it? Part 2

It’s widely accepted that passive writing can look awkward and can weaken the writing considerably, and sometimes it just doesn’t look right. That said, it’s important to tell writers that not every sentence you write will be active. There will be times when you simply can’t avoid the passive voice, or a passive sentence is a deliberate choice to create an effect, for instance:   The park had been full of people. John was hit by the metal, and he fell.   These examples are not grammatically incorrect, but because passive writing creates a distance between the narrative and the reader, some writers choose to do that to create that effect. They may want the reader to feel a different emotion or sentiment, maybe see a character in a different light, or establish a tone or mood, for example:   The time was something he ignored…   There may be an instance where you want to make more of an impact when you end a scene, so a passive sentence can be preferable, for example:

Passive Writing - Should You Use it? Part 1

A lot of writers I’ve edited have used passive sentence structures in their writing. It’s so commonplace that, from an editor’s point of view, it’s interesting to understand why most writers construct their sentences in such a way. This form of storytelling seems to come easily to them, rather than active storytelling, and probably has a lot to do with how we generally speak in everyday situations.   For instance, when we tell someone about something that has happened, we tend to recall the incident passively, and so this habit spills into writing. Another consideration is that many literary classics were written passively, because people spoke very differently hundreds of years ago, and passive sentence structures were perfectly normal, but writing styles change, and what was popular 150 years ago isn’t very popular with modern tastes, and yet there seems to be an unconscious habit that writers rely on passive storytelling.   That’s not to say that passive writing isn’t entirel

Mastering Description – Part 3

Whether you’re using “show, don’t tell”, layering description with added information, using sensory details, or carefully choosing the right words for a scene, description is integral to storytelling. You’re creating something for the reader to imagine, something that is visual, something that creates a sense of place, a sense of mood and a sense of emotion. It brings your fictional world to life. Description isn’t just the stuff that happens in the foreground of the story. It’s also about the little details in the background that are often overlooked, yet make all the difference. Writers often use subtle brushstrokes or the hidden nuances to prompt the reader. For example, say there’s a scene that takes place outside by a farmstead. The foreground details might show the characters, their expressions, and the immediate area, but also, in the background, a flickering light in the distance is mentioned, glimpsed through the trees by one of the characters. This is a subtle hint, but a