Passive versus active voice

One of my red flags to watch for when I edit is passive voice. And I usually find a lot of them (they can be identified by words such as ‘was’ and ‘by’). Writing with a passive voice always seems to be how my drafts evolve. Then during my edits I need to find them and rewrite to be active – but sometimes I struggle with this.

Why change from passive to active? Active is a much more powerful way to write. In a passive construct the subject is the main ‘character’ but something else performs the action. In active construction the subject performs the action of the verb.

An example of a passive sentence:

  • Mouse was eaten by Cat.

To rewrite as an active sentence:

  • Cat ate Mouse.

To rewrite from passive to active:

  • the subject of the passive sentence needs to become the object of the active sentence
  • the object of the passive sentence (which may not be identified in the sentence) becomes the subject of the active sentence

For example:

My vase (subject) was broken by Ann (object).

Ann (subject) broke my vase (object).

Do you struggle with active voice? Would love any hints and tips 🙂

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