Active Voice

Active Voice

  When we write we must consciously decide between active voice and passive voice. The difference between active and passive is roughly the difference between quick and to the point and a meandering missive. e.g. – The dog bites. active – People have been bitten by the dog. passive Which one serves as a better warning to people unfamiliar with the naughty biting dog? A writer with confidence and a clear mind for their craft shudders after falling into the pitfalls of passive voice. Passive voice is a tool to remove authority or responsibility, and it creates a palpable barrier between the writer and the story as well as the story and the reader. In most cases a story in passive voice is two to three times longer than the equivalent active story. It then feels like a story ten times as long for the reader. It’s like a poorly edited movie: only 90 minutes in length but you feel like you wasted your whole evening watching the movie. As a general rule I advise writers to avoid passive voice as much as possible, but often this causes confusion since very few people are familiar with active voice. Active writing is clear and often concise—not to say it can’t be frilly and make literary types swoon. Active voice is when the subject is performing the action. Basically the subject/noun is doing the action/verb. In some ways active voice is—to borrow a page from dime-store psychology—the type-A personality. Say what really happened. e.g. – James drew his gun and shot Randy in the face. active -Randy was shot in the face after James drew his gun to shoot Randy. passive Passive voice is more like the wish-washy type-B personality. Well, this thing it kinda-sorta happened and you get my meaning but you kinda have to put it back together for yourself because I don’t want to be too direct. Passive voice wears readers out—after awhile it feels like hanging out with that annoying friend who always wants to do something but never has any suggestions. The classic, “Oh, I don’t know whatever you’d like.” One of the easiest ways to notice if you’re writing in the passive voice is to look for the tell-tale words: has, was, and were before the verb. Think of it as chaff getting between your noun and your verb. Keeping your subject verb agreement (staying in active voice) in order helps to move even the dullest of material forward. A positive attitude helps you through the worst of weeks; writing in active voice helps getting through the dullest of assignments, like a short article about active voice. Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in...

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Young Adult Fiction Coming Soon: Heron’s Path

Young Adult Fiction Coming Soon: Heron’s Path

Who is Alethea Eason? Read on friends… Alethea Eason lives with her husband Bill in Cobb, California, a small town in the Mayacamas Mountains in northern California. She has worked as a reading specialist and classroom teacher at two Title 1 schools, does freelance editing of novels and memoirs, and draws and paints as much as she can. She spent a year and a half teaching at St. Margaret’s British School for Girls in Concon, Chile. Her middle grade humorous science fiction novel Hungry was published by HarperCollins (Eos) in 2007. Her stories and poetry have appeared in places as varied as the children’s publications Shoo-Fly Audio Magazine and New Moon Magazine and the literary journals Frontiers and Sweet Fancy Moses. Three of her stories have been anthologized in collections edited by Bruce Coville, including A Glory of Unicorns. She was the winner of the SRA/McGraw Hill Imagine it! Teachers’ Writing Contest, in which her story “Turtle Soup” was made into a picture book to supplement the reading program’s second grade curriculum, and the Eugene Ruggles Poetry Prize given by Copperfield Books for their publication The Dickens. Meetings of the Minds Publications published her poetry chapbook Threshold, nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Read a short sample of Heron’s Path right here. To learn more about Alethea visit her website:  Heron’s Path Now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble! Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...

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Heron’s Path by Alethea Eason: (sample)

Check out this sample from the upcoming young adult fantasy novel Heron’s Path by Alethea Eason: — — — On a hot day in September I found Celeste’s clothes scattered all over the barn, one shoe upside down next to Papa’s forge and the other inside a milking pail. Her yellow dress hung from a ladder like a bird suspended in midair. I pulled the dress down by its hem and three tiny blue feathers, nearly the same shade as my sister’s eyes, drifted down to the dusty floor. I caught one of them in my hand; I stood there puzzling over what might have happened that morning to make her run off again. I felt alone, as though a wind had come up and peeled Celeste from the earth. I told myself that she was playing the same old game she’d scared us with so many other times, but this loneliness—so odd and new—followed me like a ghost as I ran outside and shouted for Papa. I was afraid he wouldn’t come; I’d find our cabin gone, and I’d be without any family at all. Papa searched the woods. I took our dog, Rufus, and ran up and down the river bank. When I found no trace of her I followed Papa into the trees where there were more shadows than seemed right. I didn’t dare go in very far and kept circling the places Celeste and I knew well. I heard Olena’s voice in my head telling me stories. Her words dripping slowly the way honey falls from a spoon. Her stories always made me uneasy. She believed in ghosts, the last traces of the Old Ones, who were a part of the breath and spirit of the rocks and trees, of the river Talum, and the surrounding woods. But the wei-ni-la, the darker ones, were the shadows to really fear. They were ancient too, and lived in the empty spaces of the woods, filling them with whispering. All afternoon Celeste’s name echoed through the trees as Papa and I called for her. Finally, his shouting changed and Rufus started to bark furiously. I was so tired my legs were shaking. I was running on legs that wouldn’t work. When I finally found them, Papa was half way up a steep gully with Celeste draped over his shoulder. Her hair, a skein of golden thread unraveling almost to the ground, was the only thing that covered her. I thought she looked newly born or newly dead. “Is she all right?” I asked. My lips were dry and hurt when I spoke, and my words felt like spittle as they came out of my mouth. All Papa could...

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Gifts For Writers Part IV

by Jared Saathoff When providing gifts for writers one of the key elements is playing to your writer’s sense of curiosity. Let’s face it, writers are worse than cats. Hours of useful time can be lost to something as simple as a squirrel or a website featuring only animated dancing robots. So, logically the best gift for a writer would be something to keep them on track and influence a more efficient manner of production— something like horse blinders or a dog’s shock collar. But, as I found out the hard way it violates several labor laws to force workers to wear those shock collars. So unfortunately I don’t think your beloved writer will enjoy it much either. Alas, the best way to appease your non-shock-collar-wearing writer is to get them something they’ll actually like. Truth is you can’t ever go wrong with Lego. But, you can go more awesome with this: — Awesome Link — it’s big, it’s motorized, it’s Star Wars, and it’s Lego. Guaranteed* to amaze and dazzle at cocktail parties. But, in this particular case you’ll have to do some digging to find something like it. Lego, because they’re awesome and Danish, release the majority of these beautiful sets in a limited run. So, there is this: — Awesome Link — but it’s not motorized, you’ll have you use your imagination.   Or. There’s this really neat book. It’s a collection of the old engravings that used to grace the pages of the dictionary. Back when the dictionary was really cool and not online: — Awesome Dictionary Link — I am going to set mine right next to the Unabridged Oxford English Dictionary, which is also a really interesting and neat gift idea for anyone interested in words, but be warned it weighs more than a toddler and unless you feel like rubbing your nose against the pages, it requires a magnifying glass.   Writers, even those without shock collars, write. So why not make writing awesome with this: — Awesome Pen Link — Quite possibly the greatest pen I have yet to write with (I ordered mine yesterday (actually I ordered three)). Guaranteed* to help you make new friends and influence people to buy you beer. The only thing that could, maybe, be more awesome would be a sword-in-cane that also had a pen—but that just doesn’t seem practical.   And finally, if your beloved writer is annoyed with boring people being the only ones that come over to watch movies there is this solution: — Magic Link — guaranteed* to keep boring people out of your life and make TV and movie watching 98% more enjoyable.   * Guaranteed by me. Guarantee not from the...

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Opening Lines

I want the first line of your story to be the realization that you’ve just stepped between a grizzly bear and her cub. The opening line of a story is the adventurous spring-board of creation or a dull ol’ coffin-nail. Stories precariously hang in the balance between that first capital letter and the final bit of punctuation. These lines, irksome and magical, come in all shapes and sizes and are the difference between the first chisel strike that will produce David or split the slab of marble in half. Successful stories grab hold of a reader at the very beginning and don’t let go. Unsuccessful stories are those that fall prey to the fatal temptation of starting off slow and hiding the interesting parts under pages of why-am-I-reading-this text. A bad opening line is usually indicative of an author hiding from their story. Tension is not created by reading five boring pages of a six-page short story to then find out on the sixth page that the narrator is a ghost or the killer or a paraplegic. If something in your story stinks I want to catch a whiff of it in the first paragraph. Even if your story doesn’t start with the stench of corpses, tone and the unexpected go a long way. It might lack the intensity of the grizzly bear or a hyena lock-jawing on your throat. The unexpected does a lot toward hooking your reader in for the long haul. Some of my favorites:   “It was a pleasure to burn.” Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury   “It was the fashion in cruelty to crucify not only men and women, but children and their small pets in the season which I first met the Devil.” Von Bek by Michael Moorcock   “We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.” Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson   “His two girls are curled together like animals whose habit is to sleep underground, in the smallest space possible.” Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver   “I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.” Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides   ‎“Marley was dead: to begin with.”A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens   “It was a nice day.” Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett   So, what can we do to produce amazing openings? My advice is to announce the point of your work like a chorus of...

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