One of my all-time pet peeves? The kiss of death in a cover letter to an editor? OK, the kiss of death in a cover letter to THIS editor? Passive voice sentence construction. We all do it, and this website has just as many guilty passages as anyone, so I can’t blindly accuse other writers of being dorks without putting on a dunce cap myself. No, TWO dunce caps.
Fortunately, there are plenty of helpful online resources to help you cut the crap in your writing. Some writers begin this conversation by saying “WTF is passive voice?” I pass along this excellent site from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. It’s a great place to get your education, and my favorite part of this site is the list of myths about passive voice. It’s actually permissable to use in certain instances, but most writers (me) who fall into the passive voice trap do so in the most glaring of ways–all addressed with suggestions on alternatives.
GetItWrite Online provides a generous helping of hints and advice with many more examples of flagrant passive voice sentences. I love this site for the free info, but the most recent writing tip is from 2006. Too bad, as I’d love to keep going back there on a regular basis.
Freelance-Zone.com nothing whatsoever to do with English-Zone.com but the handy passive voice chart is pretty cool and I wish I had thought if it first.
You’ll get quite an education on passive voice between these three sites. Please pass them along to the next person who writes an inter-office memo stating “The meeting will be held at two o’clock.”