Passive Voice- How many times has someone marked that on your manuscript or contest entry? Do you really know what passive voice is?
She was trying.
He found the game was stripping him of his money.
The game stripped him of his money.
The metropolis has been scorched by the dragon's fiery breath.
When her house was invaded, Penelope had to think of ways to delay her remarriage.
**NOTE: the passive voice is marked by a form of "to be" + the past participle--not a form of "have" alone + the past participle, as some students believe. So don't let the combination of "have" and "to be" fool you. In the next section, we discuss why you often want to avoid using the passive voice, but let's briefly look at how to change passive constructions into active ones. You can usually just switch the order, making the actor and subject one--putting the doer up front:
The dragon scorched the metropolis with his fiery breath.
After suitors invaded Penelope's house, she had to think of ways to fend them off.
To repeat, the key to identifying the passive voice is to look for both a form of "to be" and a past participle, which usually, but not always, ends in "-ed."
The primary reason why passive voice is frowned is because the reader often has to guess what you mean. Sometimes, the confusion is minor.
The group was chaotic.
African Americans were discriminated against.
Women were not treated as equals.
Such sentences lack the precision and connection to context gives the reader clarity and draws them deeper into your story. Better sentences would be:
The college students pushed and shouted as they made their way down the boulevard.
African Americans had a hard time finding decent housing, jobs, and schooling in the past.
Until recent years, women did not live with the same laws and salaries as men.
Passive voice can cause prose to be flat and uninteresting.
Some sites for help with passive voice-
Now I’m not saying to never use passive. There are times when it is necessary or conveys the message you want to get across. The main thing is to KNOW what passive voice is and when to use it. You’ll see passive voice used in nonfiction works and literary works, but if you are writing romance and want to lure your reader in, it's best to use it as little as possible to keep your reader in the moment.
Are you a writer who uses passive voice and do you know why you use it? Or are you someone who uses it and didn't have a clear idea of what it was ? If you are one who uses passive voice, give us a sample and explain why it works.