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KTC
05-19-2005, 04:37 PM
I have just joined a critiguing group to help me with my novel-in-progress. I joined a temporary one about a year ago and it was extremely helpful. I'm looking forward to this one. The thing is, I think that the participants are a bit more savvy and I want to offer them my best work. (I always want to offer my best work, but now more than ever...for their benefit. I don't want them to feel like they are wasting their time.)

Here's the thing. I'm hopeless with PASSIVE/ACTIVE. Is there any definitive book out there on the subject I can read and use as an aid to check my work-in-progress. I know this topic's been covered here already. I just don't remember if a tool was suggested.

Any suggestions to help a hopeless case? I mean besides a magic wand I can just wave over the pages...


THANKS IN ADVANCE!

zornhau
05-19-2005, 04:47 PM
IMHO The utterly best book for ground up writing is

***“Techniques of the Selling Writer” Dwight Swain
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0806111917/qid=1092309558/sr=1-4/ref=sr_1_11_4/202-8852299-9557438 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0806111917/qid=1092309558/sr=1-4/ref=sr_1_11_4/202-8852299-9557438)
An old book, recommended to me by Janny Wurtz. Basically it’s Pulp Writing 101. Covers everything, from extreme basics to advanced. Swain was a very successful mid 20th century pulp writer.

Torin
05-19-2005, 05:02 PM
I wrote an essay about passive voice. It's at my website: http://www.cebarrett.com/essays.htm and click on the 'grammar' button. It's easy to understand. :)

Torin

KTC
05-19-2005, 05:15 PM
Thank you both. I will read your essay and search for the book you suggested.

Thanks!

Maryn
05-19-2005, 10:16 PM
It's not a book, but assuming you're writing on a computer, the easiest way to break yourself of passive voice (and of using dull verbs) is to search for is, was and were and check the sentences in which they appear.

By finding those, you'll find passive voice:
Her paycheck is docked for lateness. vs. The boss docks her paycheck for lateness.
The curtain was climbed by the kitten. vs. The kitten climbed the curtain.
The aliens were kills by death-rays. vs. Death-rays killed the aliens.

Sometimes you'll want to leave the sentence alone, but you'll be forcing yourself to reconsider every instance. Bonus: You'll also find imperfect verb tenses (was going vs. went) and decide if they're what you want.

Give it a shot on a chapter or page and see if it doesn't do the trick.

Maryn, hoping it helps a bit

KTC
05-20-2005, 03:10 AM
Thank you Maryn! I will try this as well.

KTC
05-20-2005, 03:18 AM
Okay...now I'm depressed..

37 is
332 was
81 were

I think I may just hit the delete key!

How accurate is this check for active/passive? WOW!

I have time now, I'm going to read the article linked above. Thanks!

brokenfingers
05-20-2005, 03:33 AM
Okay...now I'm depressed..
37 is
332 was
81 were
I think I may just hit the delete key!
How accurate is this check for active/passive? WOW!
I have time now, I'm going to read the article linked above. Thanks!
Hey KTC,

That doesn't necessarily mean that they all must go. I don't know if you checked out this thread from a few days ago but here's the link where this point was discussed:

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12300

Hope it helps!

Write on, fellow traveler!

Jamesaritchie
05-20-2005, 03:44 AM
Okay...now I'm depressed..

37 is
332 was
81 were

I think I may just hit the delete key!

How accurate is this check for active/passive? WOW!

I have time now, I'm going to read the article linked above. Thanks!

These words don't automatically make a sentence passive. Passive has to do with who is performing an action. What does grammar check say about passive sentences? Grammar check is lousy for some things, but it tends to be pretty good at pointing out passive sentences.

It's impossible to use such a check to tell how many passive sentences you have. You really need to learn the difference between active and passive. This is no big deal. A simple rule is to look at the subject of the sentence. If the subject is performing the action, or if the senetnece tells who is performing the action, it's an active sentence. If the subject is having the action performed on it, and you can't tell who is performing the action, it's passive.

"We crossed the stream" is active. You can tell who crossed the stream. "We" did. "The stream was crossed" is passive. The sentence doesn't tell you who crossed the stream. This is why "was" gets a bad name. But as that other thread shows, "was" is a perfectly good word. So is "were" and "is." You can't simply eliminate every one and be left with good writing.

maestrowork
05-20-2005, 03:47 AM
Go through the 37 iss, 332 wass and 81 weres and ask them to justify their existence. If they convince you, let them stay.

Tish Davidson
05-20-2005, 06:02 AM
MSWord has a function that checks for passive when you spell check. It is hidden under about 4 layers of tabs. Click onTools, then Options, then Spelling and Grammar, then Settings and you will get a whole list of things that the spelling and grammar checker will check if you click them off. Passive is one, but you can also check for cliches, double negatives, too many relative clauses. It isn't perfect, and sometimes you really want those passive sentences of relative clauses, but it does call them to your attention and makes you decide if you could re-word to make your writing more dynamic.

KTC
05-20-2005, 06:49 AM
Well, thank you everyone. I think I have a lot to learn about this. I have read threads in the past and tried to wrap my head around this. The active/passive thing is definitely my Waterloo. I'm rereading everything and trying the grammar check suggestions given by Tish. Thanks to all for your great help!

maestrowork
05-20-2005, 06:51 AM
If you post an excerpt in SYW or something, maybe we can point out where you are using passive voice, etc.

KTC
05-20-2005, 06:57 AM
That would be greatly appreciated. I don't know why I can't grasp it while I'm writing. I've even taken writing courses which dealt with it?! It's frustrating. I will post a couple pages. Thanks for the suggestion...

MadScientistMatt
05-20-2005, 07:22 AM
It's like learning a lot of things. Sometimes you just need it explained in a way that matches how you think about it.

WVWriterGirl
05-20-2005, 07:37 AM
Need help with my crutch...

Sorry, ya'll, this is what alcohol does to you...thought it said "Need help with my crotch". I just had to pop in and see what that was all about...

WVWG

Euan H.
05-20-2005, 07:59 AM
You might also want to look at the Purdue OWL site. The link is below:

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/g_actpass.html

Another good one on the subject is:

http://www.uark.edu/campus-resources/qwrtcntr/resources/handouts/activepassive.htm

KTC
05-20-2005, 04:10 PM
Okay...I posted a bit of my work. I didn't realize how long it was until after I saw it displayed. At any rate, it's just a sample pulled from about page 40 or so. I think this link should work. Please...slay my darlings!


http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=200427#post200427

three seven
05-20-2005, 05:51 PM
Sorry, ya'll, this is what alcohol does to you...thought it said "Need help with my crotch". I just had to pop in and see what that was all about...

WVWGI just popped in to see whether anyone had mentioned that yet. ;)


(In Britain, it's a synonym)