"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, LifeHack, Technorati, Date My Pet, South 85 Literary Journal and other award-winning sites.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Should Writers Write the Way They Speak...?

As chance would have it, (or maybe serendipity), I ran into a young lady some time ago, at a creative function, who was an aspiring author. We hit it off right away.
In the hopes that we might collaborate on future creative projects, we exchanged information.
Excited to learn more about her background and her future events, I looked up her site to check her out, days later. What I found was impressive.

She was obviously educated, accomplished, talented, and eager to build a platform and make a difference. There was just one problem.

Her "About Me" page came across more like she was applying for a prestigious position, as opposed to connecting with readers and having an online "conversation."
She used lofty, 100 dollar words, when $5.00 words would have sufficed.

Don't get me wrong; I do believe that the words she chose to express herself on her profile were no doubt a part of her everyday vocabulary, given her credentials. Yet the language was cold and impersonal.
Not at all like the friendly and engaging woman I encountered upon meeting her.

But, it's a mistake that many bloggers and aspiring authors make.
Which begs the question...
Should you write the way you speak?
The answer is yes. And no.

Allow me to elaborate here...

In my professional capacity, I have had the opportunity to pen pieces for an array of different publications and projects. From academic articles, to blog posts, to columns and social commentary, to reviews.
My language, tone, and approach are dictated by related factors. As should yours.
Accordingly, here are some things you'll need to consider in deciding how to best use your "writer's voice":

  •   Informal or formal project?
When I sit down to craft my blog posts, I typically write very informally. I want folks to feel as if they're sitting in the same room with me, perhaps over a cup of tea or a glass of Merlot. With this being the case, I write as the mood hits me, or as the creative process leads me. You'll read everything from fragments, to Ebonics, to Pig Latin, to a little Spanish, to the King's English. And I will, from time to time, end a sentence with a preposition, thank you very much. :-)
Word up!  But, when I'm writing for a corporate client or an article for academia, I am more "poised" and conventional in what I present. You should be too.

  • Who is your audience?  
Are you writing a book for kids? A blog post for other writers? An instructional guide for employees? A speech to be delivered at a graduation? It's all relative. That's why knowing your audience is one of the cardinal rules of writing. The more you know about who your audience is comprised of, the greater the chance of tailoring your words to that readership and resonating with them.

  • What is your purpose?
Is it to entertain? To rant? To educate? To raise awareness of an important cause? Your purpose will ultimately determine your word choices, the type of information you share, your level of "intimacy" with readers, and the delivery.

  • What's your communication style?
Some folks are naturally inclined to be funny, while others may come across as more serious and low-keyed. By all means, when the situation dictates, "do you!" Speak naturally.
A case in point would be Dr. Phil. I love his colorful expressions: "That dog ain't gon hunt." And his frequent use of the words "y'all" and "ole boy." He comes off as someone who knows his stuff without being "stuffy."
I find that in a world with far too many imposters and fakes, being authentic has real value. Just make sure it's appropriate and applicable. Meaning, just because you may use four-letter words around friends, doesn't mean that you should adopt this philosophy for your blog. Keep it real, but be realistic.

Your turn.
What's your take on this topic, so to


  1. Yes and amen. I like that - "Keep it real, but be realistic." Excellent points, Jen. Good things to remember on the journey.

  2. Jennifer Brown BanksMay 27, 2015 at 4:32 PM

    Thanks, Karen! So glad you agree. :-)

  3. My blog posts tend to be informal, conversational and pretty much like I usually speak. But I follow the same dictates you've laid down here and always consider my audience. Great post, Jen!

  4. Thanks, Sue. I can definitely attest to your conversational and warm "tone" with readers. :-)

  5. I use a casual tone on my blog. I have a tendency to emoji and use exclamation points freely, while I would never do that in my novels or in most of my short stories. I think it's important to remember the genre we're in at the moment for the tone that we use, and I think it's important as readers to realize what tone someone is using for their blog versus their books.
    Great post! :) (Case in point)

  6. Hi Tyrean,

    Thanks for adding to the mix here. How great to hear from you today! :-)

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  8. That's an interesting topic Jennifer, because I must be writing in an alien language or in a binary code or something, since I seem to attract a lot of 'robots' that only have advertising in their comments.

    So I like to formally express that also humans are cordially invited to write their comments :)