Friday, February 25, 2011

Passive Voice

I recently had my first chapter critiqued by an agented author. It was a contest that I won over on The Operation Awesome blog. If you haven't checked it out, the website is and it is completely awesome.

Besides that, after I recieved my feedback, one thing that was absolutely clear was my use of passive voice. My book is an action book so having a first chapter riddled with passive action isn't so interesting.

I took a hatchet to my first chapter looking for those passive verbs, "was" "as" "were," etc. and after done that I realized that it does work better if I use the active voice. It had more punch, more immediacy, more power. All good things when writing a book. Now I am going through my first few chapters punching them all up like this.

So my question to you is, what is your pet peeve in terms of writing first drafts? Do you use a lot of passive voice, too much telling? What makes you look at your book and go, "What the heck was I thinking? I know better."

Let me know in your comments, because I'm curious what my blog buddies think are their flaws, since I might have some of the same ones.


  1. Congratulations on the agent critique! You know what, though, there are worse flaws than the use of passive voice, because it's so totally fixable.

    My big flaw is my tendency to be repetitive. I have my characters nodding and twitching and glancing away, and the story gets really bogged down with essentially useless descriptions.

  2. Yeah I think that's something I have them doing, usually when I'm sort of stuck in my own way. It is also a good thing because it is an easy fix.