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Listen to the Voices in Your Head

When we send a post into the blogosphere, we want to make sure our best feet are forward. That means…

  • Ready to write? We’ll give you a new challenge each Monday. Publish a new post on your blog that interprets the challenge. Include a pingback and we’ll list your post below. Learn More

When we send a post into the blogosphere, we want to make sure our best feet are forward. That means making sure errors like typos or poor grammar don’t detract from what we have to say; it’s one of the reasons The Daily Post highlights grammar issues many of us struggle with. (With which many of us struggle?)

Grammar challenges will follow up on grammar posts, calling on you to put your new-found understanding to the test. It’s one thing to read about the rules, but another to put them into practice.

To participate, tag your posts with “DPchallenge” or leave a link to your post in the comments. (It would also be great if you could link to this post to encourage people to take part – the more the merrier!) Please be sure your post has been specifically written in response to this challenge; obvious attempts to link-bait will be deleted. We’ll keep an eye on the tag and highlight the week’s best posts on Freshly Pressed each Friday.
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Let me be perfectly candid and say that Daryl’s the Grammar Maestro in these parts. My approach to proper grammar is not unlike the Supreme Court’s approach to pornography: I know it when I see it. I’ve never diagrammed a sentence and have been known to leave participles dangling all willy-nilly, so I look forward to his posts as much as you do.

Hopefully, his wonderfully clear description of recognizing the passive voice in your writing has already been read by you,* because it’s time for the pop quiz. For this week’s Writing Challenge, we want you to pay attention to how you’re using the active and passive voices and make a conscious effort to use them in a way that produces clear, direct, and compelling posts. Here’s what you’re gonna do:

  1. Switch your post view to “Text” mode – you don’t want those green squiggly lines giving away phrases that have grammatical issues.
  2. Pick a story about something you did – a pick-up basketball game you played, a meal you cooked, a project you did around the house, whatever. The only limitation is that it needs to involve an object (e.g., the basketball, the saute pan, the cordless drill).
  3. Tell the story, making the object the focus. This doesn’t mean you have to describe slicing onions from the onion’s point of view – although I would totally read that post – but you should highlight the actions and characteristics of the object.
  4. Pay attention to the ways using the active and passive voices help or hinder your story.  You could start every sentence with “I threw the ball…,” but then you wouldn’t be focusing on the object. On the other hand, you could start every sentence with “The basketball was thrown…,” but that much passivity is going to get old fast.

Be creative. Think about each sentence: what do you want to emphasize? How can you construct a sentence that gets your point across and is engaging to read? Passive voice may be the answer, but it may not. (For a slightly more in-depth look at times when the passive voice is your friend, check out this instructive post by fellow WordPress blogger Elijah Cain.)

This may seem a bit nebulous, and that’s because it is. We don’t actually want to give you a pop quiz, we just want you to think about the function of voice when evaluating your writing. When we check out each others’ posts, we’re hoping to read a bunch of creatively written stories that really draw us into the scenes y’all are painting; nothing more.

PS: For inspiration, distraction, and a chuckle, WordPresser You Knew What I Meant recently posted about what happens when the passive voice goes completely awry.

PPS: Have you taken our user survey yet? No? Now’s as good a time as any!

*Yes, I did that on purpose.

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  1. JUST HAD A GO AT THIS NOT SURE if got the passive /active voice quite right but main thing is i enjoyed giving it a go as not written stuff like this for yeons and never been a great fan of grammer as find it slows down my ideas

  2. Coming to this late. Watch for a post from me about Dysgraphia. Or go here to read about it: http://www.ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/dysgraphia/what-is-dysgraphiait.

    I suffer it. This Dys was passed down to me by my mother, to her by her father and to many up that branch of the family tree. This Dys has seriously impacted my ability to follow my dream to be a writer; two editors stopped editing after doing one of my books. I like to thing it is because the books stressed thinking about your life, your mission, and fulfilling your dreams. I am certain, however that having to edit a Dysgraphic’s book was perhaps the final straw.

    Thomas Acquinas said “To understand all is to forgive all.” So I post this in the hopes it might reduce rage–which only eats your heart–about grammatical errors.

    My frustration gets reduced when I see a grammar blogger or famous writer I am quoting fails to pass Word Presses blue and red line final test. A little laugh and knowing none of us is perfect builds emotional strength.

    That said, I also am very grateful for the grammar blogs, for spell check, grammar check, and finally for OCD editors. Yes, you all carry that trait as surely as I am dissed by dysgraphia. Mental illness labels are about how one functions and how useful one’s symptom is in the broader world. Stay strong as I keep telling my self.

34 Responses Ready to write? To participate, publish a post on your blog that responds to the prompt. Include a pingback and we’ll list your post below. Learn More