by L. S. King
let's get active
In my last column, I discussed Passive Voice.
This time, we're going to review what some writers call "Passive Writing."
"Passive Writing" can include passive voice, but sometimes when fiction writers refer to "Passive Writing," they're not talking about active voice vs. passive voice sentences. They're talking about showing not telling.
The verb to be is often involved in telling sentences:
This is also where some writers growl at the to be plus -ing construction, marking it as Bad or Wrong. (Sometimes it is, sometimes not. Read Past Verb Tenses to find out more.)
Words like 'started to' and 'began to' are often culprits as well.
Let's give an example of telling vs. showing:
She was afraid to walk down the hallway.
She swallowed, her heart pounding, as she gazed down the hallway, her feet frozen to the floor.
Okay, time for some fun. I'm going to list some telling sentences:
It was a dark and stormy night.
Now, take one or more of the sentences above, rewrite it, and, if you're brave, post it in the Cutting Edge Forum on The Sword Review.
Granted, not every sentence, every scene in a story needs to be shown, minor points can be glossed over to keep action moving toward a goal, but know and choose to tell consciously and purposefully.
© 2005 - 2010 L. S. King