This is a continuance of a post I did last week. It turned out to be too big for just one, so here we are again.
This is one of the hardest concepts to deal with when writing. How can you tell if you’re writing in active or passive? Good question. The easiest way to deal with this can be broken up into two ways:
1) Don’t worry about it in your first draft. Really. The first draft is just a way to get the story down on paper. Fix the things that need fixed during revisions and edits.
2)In active voice, the subject is doing the action. In passive, the object is doing the action. Let’s use an example.
This is active because Mary (the subject) ran (verb). Now, let’s look at passive.
Let me ask you: Can you tell the difference? Which one is tighter and and better sounding sentence? In the second sentence Mary still runs across the road, but this time Mary is the object whereas the road is the subject. Passive voice is weak writing.
When going through your revisions, just keep an eye out for whether the subject or the object is doing the action. Easy-Peasy equation: Subject + Verb = Active whereas Verb + Object = Passive.
Active voice = Good. Passive voice = Bad
Yes. Adverbs again… Only this time in phrase form. It’s easy to point out adverb phrases if you know what you’re looking for, and they are on par with adverbs: use them rarely. Example:
It’s easy to spot the adverb as most end in -ly, but can you spot the adverb phrase? In this sentence “through the back door” acts as the adverb phrase. Which sounds better/tighter? That sentence, or this one:
Sure, this sentence is short, but it gets the point across without the additional and unnecessary adverb and adverb phrase. It’s important to tighten your writing when going through revisions. Go through your manuscript and see if you can count how many adverb phrases you have in it. Betcha it’s more than you think. Adverb Phrases = Good, Bad, or Ugly (depending on how you use them)
I’ve heard advice to use only he said/she said. I’ve heard advice to use descriptive tags. I’ve heard advice to not use tags at all (which kind of confused me). Really, it all comes down to what works for you and your writing (as does most of what we’ve talked about here). He key to dialogue tags is in how much you use them.
Let’s say you are writing a scene with two characters. As long as those characters have their own distinct voice, using dialogue tags every time someone says something is unnecessary. Once every few lines is fine. In the case of three or more characters it’s the same idea, but action tags might be more useful.
Like I said, it’s up to you and how you write, but using dialogue tags after every line will be repetitive and turn your reader off. Dialogue Tags = Good or Bad
I’m going to admit, I have an addiction to using exclamation points. OMG! I’m so excited!! Everything is wonderful!!!
Do you want to see that after every sentence when reading a book? Didn’t think so. The key to using exclamation points is… Don’t. If you you must, once every few PAGES is fine… Try not to though. Readers will infer through the action in the scene and the character’s voice how the lines are meant to be “heard.” So, using these too often is not necessary. Exclamation Points = Ugly