I take no credit for this one and just heard about it myself. An editor at Changeling Press passed it on to the authors and thus I’m passing it on to you (I needed the content anyway :P). It’s even Halloween-flavored. Thanks to Rebecca Johnson for sharing this great technique.
A sure fire way to tell passive voice and active voice. It’s one of those things with which every author struggles at some point. Most find a way around it and others have learned to edit it out.
For those who still get confused about whether or not a sentence is active or passive, just add zombies. Or more specifically add the phrase “by zombies” after the verb. If the sentence reads fine, then it is passive and you should think about revamping it. If the sentence reads funny, then it’s active and you’re fine.
Example (from unknown FB person – Thanks!):
“She was killed [by zombies].”
* Makes sense? Yes. It’s passive voice.
“Zombies killed [by zombies] her.”
* Makes sense? No. It’s active voice.