Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The passive voice should never be used.

On more after this one. (But next week will be a special treat, a guest post from a writer with a brand new book!)

photo from Dreamstime

In general yes, you should use active voice. (See what I did there?) But there are exceptions.

(1) You don’t want to give away who the subject, or the action taker, is. Like, maybe:
When I returned, the entire house had been painted.

(2) You want to write it so as to not mention the subject at all. Maybe you don’t know. Say you’re not religious, but spiritual. You might say:
I was given the gift of second sight.

(3) You want to emphasize the subject by putting it at the end of the sentence.
The bomb was set by the person I least expected, my old enemy.

(4) Backloading. This is my favorite use of passive voice. (It’s really the same as #3, but used in specific places.) I always check to see if I need to use it at the end of a scene or chapter. Example:
Coming through the door was a complete stranger.
In her hand was a gun.
At the bottom of the well was a twisted body.

Stuff like that. Any other uses you can think of?


  1. I'd say use it any time you want the 'punch' to come at the end of the sentence (double for the end of the chapter).