This article was originally published in The Writer’s Everything, Issue #012.
Like any career or hobby, there’s a whole world built around writing that you may just be beginning to scratch the surface of. And let’s face it, we’re not born knowing how to respond if someone on Twitter asks if the MC in your WIP finds the McGuffin, or if it was just a red herring all along.
Well that’s what the Writing Definitions guide is going to be for. Rather than spending countless hours trying to develop a feel for what all these various terms mean, a few specific terms will be defined with each issue of The Writer’s Everything. I hope that as this magazine continues, these terms can come to be so familiar to you that they become second-nature.
Active voice is a form of writing in which the subject of the sentence performs the action found in the verb. For example, “He killed her.” It’s generally preferred for use in fiction because of its strong narrative voice and clear nature.
Passive voice is a form of writing in which the subject is being acted upon by the verb. For example, “She was killed.” Passive voice is usually looked down upon in fiction writing because it carries less of an emotional punch than active voice.
Writing tense refers to the period of time in which the action of the verb in a sentence is taking place. There are three primary tenses. They are past, present, and future. There are also slight variations of each of them.
Sentences written in past tense refer to actions as if they’ve already happened. Such sentences convey the idea that you’re being told the story after the fact. For example, “He ate the sandwich. He didn’t like it.”
Sentences written in present tense refer to actions as if they’re currently happening. Such sentences convey the idea that you’re being told the story right as it unfolds. For example, “He eats the sandwich. He doesn’t like it.”
Sentences written in future tense refer to actions as happening in the future. Their use in narration is almost non-existent, and if they’re present at all, it will more than likely be in dialogue. For example, “I will eat the sandwich, but I won’t like it.”
The Writer’s Everything
This article, as well as many others, have been featured in previous issues of my writing journal, The Writer’s Everything, in which I, along with occasional guest contributors, provide essays, guides, encouragement, motivation, writing prompts, character bio development kits, and anything else that can help you turn your dream of becoming a writer into a reality.
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