I despise that little bastard. You know him. He’s that Passive Voice in your head…the one that keeps whittling his way into your writing.


He’s the turd that slows your story down with a few simple words like “the mail carrier was chased by my dog”. You don’t see him coming and you don’t realize he’s been…until it’s too late.

Your story’s pace isn’t right. It plods along in parts where there should be excitement and tension. You’ve written your inciting incidents well and your rising action is spot on. So, what is wrong with it?

And then, you see him. Lurking around the corners of your pages, peering out at you as plain as day. You were tagged by the Sultan of Slow, The Prince of Plot-lag. You’ve been marked by “Passive Voice”.


You were tagged by the Sultan of Slow is passive voice.

What is the definition of passive voice? Wikipedia has this to say about it:

“The passive voice is a grammatical construction (specifically, a “voice”). The noun or noun phrase that would be the object of an active sentence (such as Our troops defeated the enemy) appears as the subject of a sentence or clause in the passive voice (e.g. The enemy was defeated by our troops).

Further Wiki reading.


I am guilty of this myself. I find myself going from writing in active voice to writing in passive voice. I have noted that I frequently do this when I’m tired. It could be an indication my writing day should end.

One way to locate the Passive Voice in your writing is to do a “Find and Replace” in Word or Google Docs. Search for all the “to be” verbs: were/was/am/are/been/is and replace with active voice sentences.

Watch a video and take a short quiz from study.com and see how much you understand passive voice.


Does Passive Voice take over your writing? What do you do in order to catch that nasty critter? Scroll down to share your experiences and insights below:


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