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The rules?

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The rules?

Postby berry » Thu Nov 30, 2006 6:19 am

I have done quite a bit if research around being a writer. There are rules that are often mentioned. One of these is using an active voice over a passive voice. I have spent many years writing scientific reports/essays and have been taught to use the passive voice without even realizing. I do understand the need for directness and the need to be economical with my vocabulary but trying to apply this rule continuously affects my style of writing. Often I feel like I am attempting journalism rather than story telling of a more entertaining nature.
I feel a little stuck, I don't intend to be verbose but do want to end up too laconic either.
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Postby Talon Sinnah » Thu Nov 30, 2006 5:46 pm

I for one believe there are no rules for writers. If there were then it would bridle a spirit that did not need it. Now this opinion only goes for story writers, journalism is a different ballpark all together.(in my opinion) In essays or reports judging on what you are writing about you will need to adjust your voice to get your point across or persuade someone. In story writing if you use a certain voice all the way through it you will lose a significant reader percentage.
I am the poet of the body and I am the poet of the Soul. The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me. The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into a new tongue.

-Walt Whitman-
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Postby Magus » Thu Nov 30, 2006 6:54 pm

No actual "rules", aside from grammatic ones (which even then can be styalistically broken to achieve a certain syntactical end). However, there are a number of VERY highly recommended suggestions, executive orders, if you will, that essentially act as rules, especially for those seeking direction. I'd say that until you feel that you're achieved skill enough at writing, and knowledge enough to understand them in and out, you shouldn't try to break them. Experiment with them, test them, try as many as you can. Only through this, I believe, can you learn to appreciate them enough to challenge them.

There is, I feel, only one single rule when it comes to writing, which applies no matter what situation it's presented in: know what works. If you do this, than everything else, through your efforts, should work themselves out.
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Postby berry » Fri Dec 01, 2006 10:45 am

The difficulty I'm having is in trying to apply these rules all the time, the active voice over the passive, the 'show' don't tell, the 'submerging the I' etc. I feel like there are so many rules that there is little room for my own style. It may be that once I get used to al the rules they won't feel so intrusive. Does anyone else find these rules diffiult to keep up with?
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Postby Magus » Fri Dec 01, 2006 10:53 am

Not particularly. Admittedly, though, I occasionally slip more into the passive voice than I'd normally want to, or might flub a little in one aspect.

But what you need to realize is that these are strong suggestions, as opposed to rules. The passive voice can be, and is, frequently used. However, you have to realize what affect this has in telling your story. People do tell instead of show, but there's also a reason for this. There are reasons why every suggestion is made. Likewise, if you go against them there should be a reason for that. It all comes back around to what's best for your story.

If you find yourself slipping in and out of these suggestions, and want to keep just to one (which is usually a wise course, whichever way to you choose to adhere to), then just try to keep them in the forefront of your memory. Write them down, look at them before you start writing. After you finish writing for a time think back and review what you did (which does not mean to say to revise, just consider what you did). These should help keep these "slips" to a minimum, should you find yourself guilty of them.
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Postby Scriven » Sat Dec 02, 2006 8:45 pm

I really think that using passive voice is bad and should be avoided at all costs. What I would suggest if this is a big problem for you is to go through your manuscript and use word find for "was" and "had" and fix them on a second or third draft. Once you keep making corrections eventually it will be easier for you to write in active voice.
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Postby Ariel » Sun Dec 03, 2006 8:09 am

Just remember that you are writing for the enjoyment of the reader, not other writers. :wink:
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Postby shadowbooks » Sun Dec 03, 2006 1:35 pm

Good call - other writers tend to be the most opinionated and often their advice is well worth a listen but it is by no means a gospel truth
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