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passive voice

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rewh2oman:
I need your help.

I'm having problems with this sentence. Grammarly says it's "passive voice" but it sounds OK to me?

The sounds of emergency vehicles could be heard when the BMW’s gas tank rang out—BOOM!

When I change it to this then Grammarly says it's OK. I think this sounds good too.

The sounds of emergency vehicles were approaching when the BMW’s gas tank rang out—BOOM!

Could someone please explain why one is better, or more correct, than the other?

*NOTE: I've tested Grammarly and now I'm beginning to think its values are limited. I test with some text from established authors and it finds problems with theres too???

Mark Hoffmann:
Passive voice is not wrong. But it is considered less engaging.

I think where you have no subject, you will tend to write using the passive voice. You can use Grammarly's warning as a prompt to check the sentence. It might be that bringing the subject to the fore improves it. I don't know if Bob is in the scene or just his car, but if he is there, you could make him the subject.

Bob heard the wailing sirens of approaching emergency vehicles. He sprinted off in the opposite direction and moments later heard his BMW's gas tank explode with a boom.

Mark

Jo Bannister:
I wish would-be writers would stop listening to an algorithm and learn their trade from good books instead.  Grammarly's suggestion is awful.  Your first attempt was better; though the whole sentence could be improved.  Lose the BOOM for starters, unless you're writing for the under-10s.  Then ask yourself if a row of initials is the best way of describing a car.  And if an explosion in a fuel tank actually rings. 

But again and again, READ.  Good writers - by which I mean good novelists, in any field, not people writing books on grammar - will show you what works and what doesn't.  A sentence can be absolutely accurate and still ring false; or distinctly hand-knitted, and yet strike immediately to the truth.  Develop the sense of which is which and you'll be well on your way.

Gyppo:

--- Quote from: Jo Bannister on May 05, 2020, 09:39:52 AM ---I wish would-be writers would stop listening to an algorithm and learn their trade from good books instead.  Grammarly's suggestion is awful.  Your first attempt was better; though the whole sentence could be improved.  Lose the BOOM for starters, unless you're writing for the under-10s.  Then ask yourself if a row of initials is the best way of describing a car.  And if an explosion in a fuel tank actually rings. 
--- End quote ---

Send a polite 'author's query letter' to your county fire headquarters.  Ask if anyone can spare a few minutes to answer a few questions.  You'll probably get an answer from their 'Press Officer'.  If you're really lucky they'll put you in touch with a retired or part-time officer who is an enthusiastic provider of information.  Specialists, as a rule, like an audience.

Ask what an exploding tank sounds like.  You'll probably also get told it's nowhere near as common as films suggest.  Ask how it feels to be near one when it does go.  Ask if it looks the way it's usually portrayed in films.

You stand a good chance of getting a reply, and no research is ever wasted.

But always remember to say thank you twice.  Once in advance with the query, and again afterwards.

Gyppo

rewh2oman:
Thank you Mark, Jo & Gyppo! I knew I came to the right place for some sound advice.

I'll use Grammarly with a grain of salt. A rewrite is always a good alternative. I can try including a subject to see if it "fits".

READING/READING/READING is what I value the most. It's hard for me because of my vision challenges, but I will try to do more. Since I come from an IT background I know the positives and negatives software brings. That should've been a big clue for me to begin with.

And I'm not shy when it comes to asking questions, Gyppo, so your advice is valued as well. You've all heard of the saying that "no such thing as a stupid question". I prefer the one that says "the only stupid question is the one that is never asked".

Thanks for the inspiration to do better!

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