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Active Voice: What Are Your Characters Actually Doing?!?

Updated: Jun 1, 2019

Do you think your story sounds a little bland? Does it feel like something’s missing? Is your story hard to understand? If the answer to these questions is yes, you might be using passive voice and should use active voice instead. 


Passive voice tends to add more emphasis on the action than the subject and provides an authoritative tone, which is more ideal for corporate, business, or scientific documents. However, active voice is ideal and recommended for most forms of writing, especially for children’s picture books or novels, because it adds elements that are essential to keeping your readers better engaged and wanting more.


Examples of Active Voice vs. Passive Voice

When active voice is used in writing, the subject performs the action.

     Example: David chased the bank robber down the street.

When passive voice is used in writing, the subject receives the action.

     Example: The bank robber was being chased down the street by David.


Why Active Voice Works Best: 


It Makes Your Characters Move

Readers need to easily visualize what your characters are doing and how they are doing it. And when powerful action verbs are used correctly and immediately after the subject, it provides your story with a level a strength and energy that invites the reader to join along with the characters in their journey. Consequently, active voice is more direct and straight to the point and better illustrates your character’s personality.


It Provides Engaging Imagery, Especially for Children’s Picture Books

Yes, the illustrations in children’s picture book tell one half of the story. But the text should tell just as much as the illustrations. Active voice is key to children’s writing, and using active voice with simple verbs like “run”, “jump”, and “laugh” go a long way. Furthermore, when active voice is used correctly, children will be able to develop a better connection with the text and illustrations and will mostly likely understand your story.


It’s Easier to Follow Along

While the consistent use of active voice allows the characters to continue doing something, it provides a clear path for the reader to better understand how the plot is unfolding with a little more ease. Active voice helps the story flows more smoothly, aiding in creating seamlessly transitions throughout your story.

#activevoice #forwardmovement #imagery #passivevoice

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