I ran across Kirsten Lamb’s blog entry where she describes “Six Easy Tips for Self-Editing Your Fiction.” I opened “Quest for The Truth” (the third novel in The Seldith Chronicles) and discovered that I too had slipped into passive voice far too many times. I opened the navigation pane in Word and did a search on ‘was’—not a single chapter was spared. Of course, we all need to use ‘was’, but using it in passive voice such as ‘she was sewing’ instead of the active ‘she sewed’ can distract the reader, but more importantly, the editors and reviewers that look for this sort of thing.
I wasn’t as guilty of many of the other suggestions in her article, but that’s only because my mentors have already pointed them out. I’ll keep learning as I evolve from an award-winning technical writer (where the code has to work) to a budding fiction writer where the words have to work.
During my last editing pass I also discovered I had not always used the right punctuation when writing dialog. For example,
“How is this done,” he said. (is right, but…)
“How this is not done.” He said. (is not)
I wrote a Word macro to ferret these out and correct them en-masse.