Avoid Passive Sentences for More Engaging Stories

If you’re a serious novelist, then you’ve likely heard the maxim, “Write active sentences and avoid the passive.” It’s a popular recommendation from editors for one simple reason: It’s true.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of passive sentences:

The dolphins were watched by the kids in the stands.

The house was painted and let to dry by the newlyweds.

The ball was hit by Joe into left field in his last at-bat.

From a grammatical standpoint, these sentences are okay. Yet from a reader’s standpoint, they’re, well … weak. When it comes to crafting stories, weaker sentences equate to less engaging writing, and that means disengaged readers who will be more apt to put a novel down if they run into enough snags like these.

To see the weakness of each of the examples above, now take a look at the sentences revised in the active voice:

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