April 23, 2009

Queen of Passitivity


I recently discovered that I am the Queen of Passive Voice. Yep. I received my first ever critique back from my lovely crit partner and it had many little passive verbs lying around in my first chapter.


I immediately read through the second chapter and sure enough, there were more! Those pesky things were scattered through out and I groaned at my stupidity. I was so thankful my partner found me out and gently encouraged me to change things up a bit.


I've thought about it through the week and wondered if I think in passive voice. Or worse yet, do I talk in passive voice? Am I a passive person?


Well, in some ways, yes I am. I am not a list person, nor a go-getter. I am very adaptable and enjoy harmony around me. I'm laid back...most of the time.


So does the way we write reflect who we are?


I am in the process of changing the way I write to a more active voice, so will that translate to me personally? I doubt it. I am who I am. Though I can strive to be more active, more organized, more pro-active, I will still be the relaxed, easy going person God made me.


I will keep working on the passitivity in my writing, and hopefully one day it will speak in a most enjoyable active voice.


26 comments:

  1. My first drafts are always very passive! It's one of the hardest things for me to fix! I'm glad you and Jody are doing well together. :)

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  2. Hi Sherrinda,
    I was just thinking of trying to get to more of your MS today!! I'm glad you're laid back about our critiquing and not concerned about how quickly I move (or should I say my lack of quickness!). :)

    I catch passivity in my writing too. Thankfully that is one of the easy things to change versus some of the deeper issues that require a lot more thought and overhauling!

    Hope your week is ending on a good note! I'll be in touch soon!

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  3. Katie, it's rather nice to know there are others who struggle with it. Aren't you glad it's a fixable thing? Jody is an amazing writer and I struggle with finding things wrong in her work! I have a feeling I will be more of an encourager to her than a help. ;)

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  4. Hi Jody! I am finishing up your chapters today on my day off. I've got another comp day and will enjoy having some time to dig into your ms.

    I'm thankful the passive problems are easy to fix. Your comments really made me think about certain areas and I see I have deeper issues to deal with, as well. I'm learning so much. And that's a GREAT thing!

    I love that we are both adaptable, given how busy both of us are. I'm in no hurry.

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  5. Oh, yes. Passivity for me is much like the faux pas of telling, not showing. I'm starting to really catch myself on both in the first draft stage. But still, lots seep through to be edited later on.

    I'm glad you and Jody have started critiquing each others work. I'll be praying for you both!

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  6. You're pretty brave to admit a flaw so recently pointed out--I'm impressed! I found myself embarrassed at the mistakes pointed out to me when I received my first critiques. The problems seemes obvious once they were pointed out. Why couldn't I have seen them?Passive voice IS one of the easier things to fix. Most of the time it just requires a slight shift in words.

    I find that when I'm writing introspective scenes, I use more "to be" verbs, but they belong there because my character is usually asking him/herself a lot of questions.

    Enjoy your weekend!

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  7. Eileen, I look forward to the day when I can start catching mistakes as I make them. That is encouraging, to say the least! Thanks for your prayers!

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  8. Jill, I don't know about brave, because I am NOT a brave kind of girl. I think there is something about the internet that gives one a sense of courage. It's a bit easier to be transparent. Interesting, huh?

    I wondered about passive voice in the introspecitve sections. It almost has to be passive, in my thinking, but then, maybe someone has some advice on how to do it differently.

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  9. It sounds like you have a great critique partner. And once you know you do that, you won't do it so often. I still find it in mine and some of it I let go cause there really is no other way to write it but mostly you can make the switch and your writing is stonger!

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  10. No worries, Sherrinda. You can fix this up fairly easily. :-) I'm laid-back too, but with our writing we really need to emotionally "punch" our reader in every scene. LOL It can be tough for people like us who like to glide through life. :-) Sounds like you have a great partner. (ahem, Jody. lol)

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  11. I say to my students all the time, "Just eat the cake!"

    This is based on a lesson where you can say, "The cake was eaten by me" or "I ate the cake!"

    If I write "cake" on their essays, they know what I mean : )

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  12. Yes, Terri, my crit partner is awesome. She has a gift for critiquing in an encouraging way that is motivating rather than debilitating me!

    I've wondered about leaving the passive in (like Jill) in the introspective sections. It seems hard to get around it there.

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  13. Oh Jessica! I gotta "punch"? ;) I will definitely work on that! Maybe I will set up a punching bag and when I feel like I'm dragging, I can rev it up and stir up the dormant "fighter" in me.

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  14. KLo, I admire teachers who have such a difficult job in today's society. (I work in a school office) I will definitely say a prayer for you!

    What an awesome what to teach the passive voice. Did you hear that, Jody? All you need to say is "Cake"!!! lol...I love it!

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  15. That happened to me too!!! My crit partner totally revamped some of my scenes to make them MUCH more active. I had no idea until I saw them! :)

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  16. Jaime, I totally know what you mean! I had no idea either and was so excited to see how the changes worked to make it more alive! I love learning...

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  17. I believe our writing does reflect who we are, but that doesn't necessarily mean you are passive. Almost every writer I know struggles with passive voice.

    And not ALL passive verbs are bad! Nor are all passive passages bad. It depends on what you're trying to convey. Good luck!

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  18. Sherrinda: Relaxed is good. I wish I were more passive and easy-going!
    Your ability to receive correction well is stunning!
    Everyone has to watch the passivity, whether it's in their personality or their writing.
    You are well on your way to success, with such a great attitude.

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  19. I'm a new visitor and a writer who also finds many faults with her writing. As they say, it's a craft that needs constant work.

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  20. Jeannette, I want to be teachable, because I know I will never make it if I am not! I am so new at this, I know good and well I need every bit of instruction I can get! Thanks for the encouragement!

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  21. Gutsy Writer, I wonder sometimes if I will ever get to a place where I feel like my WIP is done. The best it can be. I seriously doubt it! :)

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  22. Hi Sherrinda,
    I love your blog! The post about cranky was hilarious. Some days I am so cranky I can't stand myself! Your tweet a few hours ago reminded me of my own purpose in writing. On my blog, the section "What's the deal with this blog?" I write about the spiritual struggle that ensues when God takes a left when we are certain the best route is to take a right! Good luck with your writing.
    Stephanie
    http://stephaniebaffone.blogspot.com/

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  23. Hi, Sherrinda:
    How did you get your Shelfari book shelf up on your blog? I did the profile, chose my books, but can't figure out how to put it up!
    Thanks, Jen

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  24. Stephanie, thanks for stopping by and for the encouraging words. I will have to check out your blog!

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  25. If this is the first draft, it's always passive. Passive is so easy to write and I think you're right. We do tend to talk and live passively, if you will. But we don't act that way. I think the key is what your character does, how s/he acts. Those are the things we want to write, though it's so much easier not to. I have to work at non-passive writing, too.

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  26. Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for stopping by. Yes, this is my first draft of my first WIP and I have alot ot learn, for sure. I have been so encouraged by all those who have said they too struggle with writing their first draft passive. ;)

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