Remove passive voice and ways to do it OR terms to search for after you book is finished

Removing passive voice from your writing makes your sentences shorter and more engaging. Many famous authors agree, e.g., Stephen King. Check out rule #2 from his top 20 rules:
  1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”

  2. Don’t use passive voice. “Timid writers like passive verbs for the same reason that timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe.”

Here is another example so you can really see the length difference:
  • Passive voice:
    • Jeremy was running across the field.
  • Active voice:
    • Jeremy ran across the field.

You can see that the sentence is shorter and the character seems more active (see what I did there). :D

I slip up and sometimes include passive voice in my writing, so I came up with several search terms/strings I use after I finish a script/book to find and remove passive voice (list below).

Use the full strings between the quotes including the spaces. Most programs have a find option (under Edit > Find) which is what I use.

If you get a match and it uses passive voice, change it to active voice.

Good luck, I hope this saved you some time and improved your writing!

-Jeremy

P.S. - If this helped, please support me by reading my free webcomic halfwing, thanks!

P.P.S. - Stephen King wrote a great, short book on writing I highly recommend called On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

P.P.S. - Please let me know if there are more I should add to the list in the comments below!


Search terms
  • "ing "
  • "was "
  • "were "
  • "has "
  • "had "
  • "have "
  • "ed"
  • "starts "

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