Daily Archives: 15 April, 2013

The Passive Protagonist

Be active, we are told as writers; don’t say “he was walking”, say, “he walked”. Active language is more engaging, and often better paced. It enables stronger prose. It lifts your writing. By contrast, passive language slows the pace and saps excitement by using two words when one will do or placing the character in the position of the object, the thing to whom actions are done. Any writer who’s spent much time on the internet or reading writing advice books knows that (and in fact my friend Brian recently posted on this subject).

On the micro level – on the level of individual sentences and phrases – this advice is followed. On the macro level – with characters over the course of a novel – often it is not.

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