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elzoria
05-03-2006, 09:32 PM
I write stories in past-tense, but find I have to use passive words like was/were/had/have/etc.

Is this okay? How am I supposed to write about the past if I can't use these words?

Does anyone actually write stories from a present-tense? Do you have any good examples of work that is present-tense?

I'm confused.

reph
05-03-2006, 09:47 PM
There are no passive words. There are verbs in the passive voice, like "was painted" in "The door was painted yesterday." Verbs that aren't in past tense can have the passive voice: "The door is painted once a year," "The door will be painted tomorrow."

"Was" for past tense is completely different from the "was" that precedes a participle to make a verb passive. "The door was shiny" isn't passive.

Jamesaritchie
05-03-2006, 11:12 PM
What reph said. Was/were/had/have/etc., are all perfectly good words, and do not automatically make a sentence passive.


Past tense is simply past tense, which means you have to use past tense verbs. This is the way 90% of all published novels are written, and has nothing to do with passive voice.

There's a bunch of bad advice around, but some of the worst concerns passive writing. I can't tell you how many times I've seen serious advice stating that "was" automatically makes a sentence passive, and it's nonsense.

To use reph's sentence, "The door was shiny" is not passive. "The door was shined" is passive. Do you see the difference?

elzoria
05-04-2006, 12:00 AM
What reph said. Was/were/had/have/etc., are all perfectly good words, and do not automatically make a sentence passive.


Past tense is simply past tense, which means you have to use past tense verbs. This is the way 90% of all published novels are written, and has nothing to do with passive voice.

There's a bunch of bad advice around, but some of the worst concerns passive writing. I can't tell you how many times I've seen serious advice stating that "was" automatically makes a sentence passive, and it's nonsense.

To use reph's sentence, "The door was shiny" is not passive. "The door was shined" is passive. Do you see the difference?

Yes, I get it now. Thank you :O)

Glenda
05-12-2006, 06:12 AM
What reph said. Was/were/had/have/etc., are all perfectly good words, and do not automatically make a sentence passive.


Past tense is simply past tense, which means you have to use past tense verbs. This is the way 90% of all published novels are written, and has nothing to do with passive voice.

There's a bunch of bad advice around, but some of the worst concerns passive writing. I can't tell you how many times I've seen serious advice stating that "was" automatically makes a sentence passive, and it's nonsense.

To use reph's sentence, "The door was shiny" is not passive. "The door was shined" is passive. Do you see the difference?

Thanks James, now it makes sense.

Jordan
05-15-2006, 08:58 AM
In a passive sentence, the subject is often missing, as in:

America was discovered in 1492.

Many writers have been scammed on the Internet.

Or, if the subject is present, it is of secondary of importance, as in:

America was discovered by Columbus in 1492.

Many writers have been scammed by criminals on the Internet.

In other words, a passive sentence begins with the object - not the subject.

The active forms of the above sentences would be:

Columbus discovered America in 1492.

Criminals have scammed many writers on the Internet.

Hope this helps.

Puma
05-18-2006, 03:40 PM
In active voice the subject does the action. In passive voice the subject is acted upon. Either voice can be used for the same scenario, i.e., the tree moved in the breeze (tree performs the action); the tree was moved by the breeze (breeze performs the action). Puma

Medievalist
05-18-2006, 06:43 PM
And don't universally condemn passive voice; sometimes a writer wants passive voice for a good reason.

In fiction, a character may think or speak in passive voice because the character doesn't know who "did" the action. "The murder victim was shot at nine."

Sometimes a character may use passive voice as an indication of weakness or insecurity or . . .

And passive voice is very useful when writing about science or when you really don't know who did what to whom (or what).