I've been thinking about how much difference a few simple ideas can make to our writing. Using the active voice is certainly one of them. See if you agree.

Let's take Winston Churchill's example 'We shall fight on the beaches.' It's active because we have a subject, plus a verb, in that order.

Wouldn't Churchill's famous line have fallen flat if he had used the passive: 'The beaches shall be fought on. The landing grounds shall be fought on. There will be fighting in the fields and in the streets'?

Even the academic journals are now demanding the active voice. 'We collected samples along a 1,000 metre transect' is active. 'Samples were collected along a 1,000 metre transect' is passive. It's also dull, and there's no ownership. Stanford University advises its engineering students to 'Expunge virtually all use of the passive voice.'

The occasional passive could give you some useful variety, but let's keep the proportion down.