Mar. 07 Writing Prompt

Let’s not think about tomorrow being a workday.

Instead, I have a fun little writing prompt for you to work on. But before we get into it, I want to cover something.

I want to point out a common saying. If you are an avid follower of this site and blog, you will hear me say “there are no rules in writing.”

However, I then go on to give you rules and guide lines to follow. Am I some sort of hypocrite? Technically, no. Realistically though, also no.

You see, the word “rules” implies that there are governing attributes that you must follow if you want to be a writer. For that, there are only guidelines.

Break all the rules
You can’t break (or follow) writing rules if you don’t know what they are.

Each agent, publisher, editor and writer will have different things they expect. Some want a specific font at a specific size. This alone makes it a rule.

But since it isn’t the only thing you can use, what that one publisher wants, is only a guideline. If every publisher and agent wanted the same font and size and accepted nothing else, then it would be a rule.

As it is, everything that deals with novel writing becomes a guide or a suggestion and not a rule.

Be mindful when you make submissions, though. You want to match what that publisher or editor or agent define as rules for themselves.

So, on that note, let’s break what is arguably the biggest and most important rule with today’s writing prompt.

March 07

Write a scene about Billy, a young man who thinks he is falling in love with an inanimate object. Write your scene only using passive voice.

What the hell did I just say?

Some writing gods are going to break through my ceiling and smite me.

While I wait for my smiting, though, let’s talk about why this “rule” is so important.

The experts say that writing in active voice is more engaging and is easier to read. It pushes the story forward and helps with pacing.

In active voice, the subject performs the action. “Sally turned the door knob.” As you can see in this small example, Sally (the subject) is performing an action.

In passive voice, then, the subject of the sentence receives the action. “The door knob was turned by Sally.”

So active voice does a couple of things. First, it makes the sentence take action. Someone is doing something.

It also makes the sentence shorter (generally) and therefore easier to read, easier to write and much easier to follow.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Once you get the hang of it, writing in active voice becomes this simple thing. For the aspiring writer, though, it can be the biggest challenge.

Part of the reason for this is that we tend to talk in passive voice. Making the switch from how you talk to how you write can be difficult.

You will notice that this blog and site has a lot of passive voice. Conversational writing is a bit different. Just like writing for a text book or writing an instructional pamphlet is different, novel writing is its own beast.

Yes, action voice is best when writing a novel, but it is not a rule. If you need to write in passive voice, you will need a thicker skin, you’re going to get laughed at. If it is what your book needs, though, go for it.

So today, you get free reign. Remove all active voice and write only in passive voice.

What will this do? It will reiterate how much better active voice sounds when reading, how much easier it is and give you practice on what to look for when trying to eliminate passive voice.

When you are done with your passive scene, post it in the comment section so we can see how well you did.

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