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Passive voice

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Post originally by Sir Harrok at 2005-11-10 15:20:41
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Lloyd wrote:

<<This sentence was written in the passive voice. The author wrote this sentence in the active voice.>>

I agree with Lloyd: writers should generally use the active voice. But there are times when you should use the passive voice, and in my view the example Lloyd used is one of them.

In the example, it's not relevant to me who wrote the sentences. It doesn't matter if they were written by an anonymous author, Lloyd or an NPC scribe with a magic quill. What's important is the object -- "this sentence."

So I would argue that "This sentence was written in the passive voice" is a great example of why some sentences *should* be written in the passive voice.

Cheers
Sir Harrok
 
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Post originally by Karro at 2005-11-11 07:06:56
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I'd agree, but may I offer this one point: sentences ~almost always~ sound better written in active voice. While the exact point you make is true for the given circumstances, I've learned over the past few years that taking this caveat too closely to heart can lead to cutting too many corners.

I've found in my own writing then when I force myself to edit a sentence written in the passive voice that otherwise seems fine, and might even almost appear to follow the rule-of-thumb you provide, I can usually craft a better-written, better-sounding (although typically usually longer) setence. Better yet is when I discover that a sentence written in passive voice was used a short-cut to avoid telling something interesting, and am able to take a passive-voice sentence and turn it into an active and engaging scene.

On the flip-side, however, this is mostly useful in fiction writing (where I have more experience) than it might be in technical writing. While I have little experience in that field, I can easily see how needless editing of perfectly clear passive-voice sentences could actually make the writing more confusing.
 
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Post originally by Lloyd Brown at 2005-11-12 07:58:18
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Yes, exceptions exist. However, few writers make the mistake of forcing active voice where passive works better. By the time they're at that point in their writing, they're able to detect which works best. Hence, the advice to keep the energy level higher through active voice.
 
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