Quick Edits is a short feature where I give quick editing advice on how to handle common problems in fiction writing.
Changing a passive verb to an active verb is pretty easy. Have a look:
She was sitting on the barstool.
She sat on the barstool.
Drop the “is” or “was,” take the -ing verb, make it an -ed verb, and you’ve got an active sentence.
He was laughing at the clown’s antics.
He laughed at the clown’s antics.
Advanced tip: Once you’ve made your passive sentence into an active sentence, you might consider revising it to use an even more vivid word. Usually when we’ve written a passive sentence (often without realizing it), we haven’t chosen the most interesting verb, so it’s worthwhile to reassess when you’re rewriting the passive to active verbs.