Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Writing Lesson - Active Voice

I'm teaching a class to sixth graders this week. I was asked to speak at an author's day at a local intermediate school. My topic is "How to Write in the Active Voice." I thought I'd share some of my wisdom for all you aspiring writers. You can apply this to all your writing. Even letters. Feel free to add your own knowledge of the craft or ask questions. I don't know about you, but I love to learn. Here goes:

Writers use active voice to make action jump off the page. It puts the reader right into the scene with the character and you feel like you're doing whatever the character is.

But what is voice? Voice refers to whether the subject performs the action (active voice) or is the recipient of the verb's action (passive voice.) A writer needs to identify the difference between active and passive voice so they can find it in their writing. Here's an example: The computer ate my paper. That's active voice. The paper was eaten by my computer. That's passive voice. See the difference?

Passive sentences always have a form of the verb "to be" in it. When you find that in your writing ask yourself how can you change the sentence so the subject is performing the action?

If you want your writing to be strong, powerful, and concise make sure to use active verbs and watch your writing jump off the page.


  1. Great stuff Stacey! thank you...


  2. Good tips Stacey. Passive voice is annoying and snoozy. I say get those lazy words jumping for lean, mean action words!

  3. Hi Stacey--finally figured out how to post to your blog!

    Nice, informative post--brief, to the point and very clearly written. Nice job!

    Joanna Aislinn
    The Wild Rose Press