Michael Stuart Kelly Posted January 8, 2008 Share Posted January 8, 2008 Improve Your Writing with a Conversation Toneby Victor StachuraJanuary 8th, 2008 Pick the Brain blogI came across this little piece of advice and found it very interesting. When I first started posting on Objectivist forums, I was criticized by certain people for writing in a conversational tone. Although I did not alter my style over time (I am me, after all), this has stayed in the back of my mind. It is good to see a discussion on the merits of conversational style from the other end, from someone who thinks it is a virtue in serious work. I think it all boils down to how much value a writer places on readibility. Does he want his work to be easily read or does he want his reader to work at comprehension? Does he need to impress the reader with his erudition? I can imagine several cases for using a particular style that sacrifices readibility. Below is a quote from the article for those who want to improve the readibility of their work.1. Write using a conversational tone. Your brain thinks it's in a real conversation when reading material written in a conversational tone. What happens during a conversation? Your brain pays attention and your remember more of the material. Researchers aren't sure exactly why it works, but you can read more about it in e-learning and the Science of Instruction. Their research shows your brain pays attention to conversations and improves your ability to remember the topic. I guess, if you're involved in a conversation your brain thinks it may have to respond to that conversation and should pay attention.2. Your tone tells a lot about you. Here's something to think about. If you're using formal language in a lecture, article or book, are you more concerned about you and how you sound to the audience? Or are you truly concerned about your audience and what they're going to get out of your presentation. If you're truly concerned about your readers, then use a conversational tone and help them learn your material. It's all about your readers and not about you, the author.3. Write the way you talk. Yes, ignore what you may have learned about writing and write the way you talk to help your readers understand your material. What this really means is to write in a direct and friendly manner – it's more appealing (especially to your brain) than formal writing.4. Use the Readability Index Calculator to improve the understandability of your writing. This calculator implements the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease criteria for determining how easy a passage is to read. Magazines such as the Reader's Digest are more easily read and score higher on the test (65), while other magazines have dramatically lower scores and are difficult to read. Most paragraphs in this post scored about around a 45 – not bad, but maybe I need to loosen up a bit. I'm not gong to discuss the specifics of the Reading Ease criteria, but suggest using it as a quick verification of the level of your writing.5. It's ok to use contractions. Contrary to what you may have learned, it's ok to use contractions – you'll grab your reader's attention and engage their brain without them even knowing it.6. "And" and "But" can be used at the beginning of a sentence. But that's not what you've been taught, is it? When we talk we occasionally start sentences with 'and' and 'but'. If you want your writing to sound authentic, the you should do the same.7. Pass the "read out loud" test. If you're unsure about your writing, then read it out loud to yourself. If it doesn't sound right, then change it. Reading your writing out loud gives it new meaning and will prevent your brain from filling in any gaps between words.8. Don't use jargon, buzzwords or obscure words. If you're really concerned about your readers, don't use words that show off your intelligence. Your writing is all about the reader and not about you.9. Remain organized and don't ramble. Conversational writing does not give you permission to write like you're sending a text message or to ramble using long sentences. In fact, I probably reached a limit in my previous sentence, but I wanted to make a point. Your writing will still need to be well organized and have thoughts that flow together.Probably the most important thing given here is the tool: Readability index calculatorI have highlighted it to make it easy to use.Michael Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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