Adverbs and Passive Voice

As I said in my last post, I’m done with my rewrite. Yay! My plan was to start editing it all on Monday. By the 2nd day of inexcusable sloth, I was about ready to shoot myself out of guilt and boredom. The 3rd day I snapped out of it and powered through it like a lawnmower through grass.

Week’s Progress:

  • 6/4 – Ch 1-3 – 2hr24min
  • 6/5 – Ch 4-6 – 1hr39min
  • 6/6 – Ch 7-12 – 2hr48min
  • 6/7 – Ch 13, 14 – 1hr21min

Huzzah! I should finish later today or, more likely because I do have a family I need to give attention to, Monday afternoon!

It’s going quickly because I was editing the old stuff while I was writing the new stuff. And I was more careful than usual while I wrote the new stuff.

My dad asked me what I do when I edit. I told him I look for adverbs, awkward sentences, missing words, dumb things, etc.

I was mainly looking for 2 important things:

  1. Adverbs
  2. Passive Voice

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I have been loving reading Stephen King’s On Writing and have been taking a bunch of quotes. Here’s what he has to say about passive voice…

Stephen King passive voice

He described adverbs and passive voice as things writers use when they’re unsure of themselves, when they have too much self-doubt. They believe they need these things to make their writing sound stronger when, in actuality, it makes their writing sound weak and flimsy.

Stephen King good writing

I’ve worked hard to get rid of the adverbs and passive voice in my MS (not in my blogging though, I don’t care about that). Of course, then I find out I’ve completely ignored the adverb phrase or clause or whatever it’s called.

Ex: in fear instead of fearfully

I’m sure “she said it with a note of patience in her voice” is probably another though I don’t care enough to find out. “She said it patiently.” Hmm…

What’s the difference between ignorance and apathy?

I don’t know and I don’t care.

So I tried to take out the adverbial phrases/clauses/whatever. That’s pretty much where my courage left me. I plead guilty and will be content…for the time being.

What do you have the most difficulty with when writing?

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About Katie St. John-Shin

I believe in living life and not letting it pass you by. I mean, come on, if you really want to do something but don't have the courage to do it so you let the opportunity disappear, you may regret it for the rest of your life. How can you know what you're capable of unless you go for it? Like every writer, I naturally plan on becoming a world-famous writer. I love reading, writing, fitness, coffee, watching my favorite movies/shows, listening to music, and trying new things even if they're sometimes terrifying. I'm a stay-at-home mom, a writer, and a POP Pilates instructor. I didn't think I'd succeed at that last one but I did it! I confronted my fears, dealt with things I didn't want to deal with, and completed the training! POP Pilates classes are coming soon to mid-Nebraska!
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2 Responses to Adverbs and Passive Voice

  1. YoursTruly says:

    Heh heh. I LOVE that passive voice test. XD

    Did you know that women tend to talk in passive voice while men talk in active voice? Passive voice is gentler, less direct, more “feminine,” and less aggressive. But then, that’s encompassing the larger idea of Voice, not just passive verb forms. Still, it’s an excellent, super simple dialogue guideline for differentiating guy characters from girls. Often, I will write dialogue for guys and then in edits remove at least half of what was there. Works pretty well – also for tomboys and certain other types of female characters. Linguistically, women use more modifiers, too – very, a little, really, sort of, tend to, maybe, I think, I feel, etc – that “soften” the way we communicate. I’ve actually started editing my personal emails to remove various passive wording styles because it makes a HUGE difference in clarity and emotive expression.

    That tends to be my biggest issue – not necessarily passive verbs as much as taking three times as many words to say something. It’s all windy and roundabout, and it drives me absolutely batty while I’m working on the rough draft. Even knowing it takes like three seconds to fix in edits, I still find myself getting caught up in hating how a sentence sounds. Really kills the productivity. I need to retrain my editor to shush while writing.

    • More women will think in terms of “grey” instead of black and white I’ve noticed too. It probably goes along with the words we use that you mentioned. I don’t bother removing adverbs and passive voice and such from dialogue if it’s how the character’s supposed to speak. Like you said, it reveals things about the character.

      I’ve noticed I connect more to books with strong narrative rather than passive. Passive people in books annoy me even when I’m the one writing them. hehehe My main character in my MS is actually pretty passive though I believe I’ve stumbled upon a lovely little “thing” for her to slog through in the next book. It’s a good thing too because I’ve been chewing my mouth (literally) trying to figure out what to put her through in the 2nd book.

      Sometimes if something bothers me a lot when I’m writing, I’ll sit there and work it out till it’s fixed. Other times I’ll move on and leave it because I’m disgusted that I can’t fix it. When I go through on the next edit or rewrite I’ll either be relieved (and impressed with myself) for having fixed it or I’ll now know how to fix it if I hadn’t done so before.

      It can be tedious, but I’m enjoying myself thus far.

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