In writing, voice is either active or passive. Your choice will depend on your goal. Active voice assigns direct responsibility, makes the writing move. Passive voice slows the pace and takes the focus off of the actor, putting it on the action.
Every sentence has a subject and a verb. In passive voice, actions happen to the subject.
The book was read by the teacher.
The car was driven by John's son.
In these sentences, the focus is on the verb - the action - instead of the subject - the actor.
Passive voice is villainized in writing circles. Yet, used with care, it can serve many functions.
To find out if you're using passive voice, look for the word "by." The action was done by the subject. This is a sure sign of passive voice.
In contrast to passive voice, active voice moves the writing, setting a faster pace.
Most of the time, this is the voice you want to use.
Active writing keeps readers interested. It's the difference between watching a compelling action movie and watching grass grow.
Let's look at our examples from above in active form:
The teacher read the book.
John's son drove the car.
In each of these sentences, you know exactly who is doing what. You know that John's son is driving that car. No one else. Responsibility is clear.
Keep your reader engaged by setting a brisk pace in your writing.
Use active verbs like:
Help your reader see what is happening. If your writing paints a clear picture, one that moves and keeps the reader pinned to the page, you will have mastered active voice.