07 February 2011

Passive Voice Confusion

So I was reading about first paragraphs today here: http://elenasolodow.blogspot.com/p/first-paragraph-tips.html and I came across this bit

Passive voice. As in "he/she was", or "he/she had". I'd say, as a rule, if you have "had" or "was" anywhere in your first paragraph (or even your first SENTENCE), take 'em out. And obviously, over-use of either throughout a manuscript is a no-no.
Later, I opened my manuscript and look at my current opening paragraph. To my horror, every sentence has 'was' or 'had' in it. Now previously, my understanding of passive voice was that it makes the subject the object, as in "Sam was hit by the ball." I try not to do that.

My problem is, in the first paragraph I'm setting up the fact that my character has is in the middle of doing something which illustrates a lot about who she is and her general outlook on life. She's about to do some things, which sort of necessitates talking about the near future rather than using proper, active verbs. At the moment I can't seem to think of other sentence constructions that will do this.

I thought about posting the paragraph here, blanking out the specifics, but it all got a bit silly. Suffice to say I have these: "[name] had a [thing]" and "she/it was going to..." and "she had almost..."

Are these bad writing sins that I should purge from my MS forthwith?

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