This quick #TipTuesday is all about using active verbs.
The author Lewis Montgomery uses a mixture of active and passive verbs throughout the book, and I will be focusing on a passage found on page 74.
Before we delve into the text, let’s define active and passive voice.
In a sentence, active voice occurs when the subject performs the action, or does the verb.
Passive voice occurs when the object of a sentence becomes the subject. In other words, passive voice describes the action that is being done to the subject, most often using linking verbs such as is, were, we be, have, has, had, etc.
Of course it’s a lot easier to see the active voice in an example. Below, all the active verbs are bolded.
“Bathroom!” Jazz gasped as they squeezed past the startled recess monitor. They raced down the hall. The bag was still in the back of the closet, right where Milo had left it. They dumped it out on the floor. ( pg. 74)
In the first sentence, the main characters Jazz and Milo run to another location in the school. ‘Gasped’ is the action that Jazz performs, thus, the sentence is in active voice. ‘Raced’ is what Milo and Jazz actively do. ‘Dumped’ is the action that MIlo and Jazz actually take. As you can see in these three examples. Milo and Jazz are actively performing the actions described.
Typically, you’ll want to use the active voice for stronger writing, but sometimes using the passive voice is necessary. Let’s take this same passage, and highlight the passive voice. The passive voice is underlined in this passage.
“Bathroom!” Jazz gasped as they squeezed past the startled recess monitor. They raced down the hall. The bag was still in the back of the closet, right where Milo had left it. They dumped it out on the floor. (74-75)
‘Was’ is a linking verbs that describes a state of being. The bag isn’t actually performing an action. The bag is just there.
For kicks, how could be rewrite the sentence, ‘The bag was still in the back of the closet, right where Milo had left it.’ to become a sentence with active voice?
- The bag lounged in the back of the closet, right where Milo had left it. ‘Lounged’ is an action that the bag takes.
- The bag hid in the back of the closet, right where Milo had left it. ‘Hid’ is another verb that actively describes what the bag is doing.
Give it a try. How could you rewrite the sentence?
When editing your work, underline those passive verbs and rewrite sentences to rewrite them as active voice.
Your writing will thank you.
By the way, if you want to check out this great mystery series, click on the book.
Thanks for reading.