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KristineS
06-23-2010, 05:44 PM
I read a lot and I read in a lot of different venues, magazines, books, web sites, blogs, etc. Lately, and maybe it's just what I've been reading, I've noticed what seems to be a groundswell of style over substance or what I call "pretty writing". People seem to be enamored with alliteration (pretty, purple prose), hyped on hyperbole ( a million times more than they were) or trying to write like Hemingway. The casualty in all this seems to be content. They're taking 5,000 words to say what they could have said in 500.

I admit that I'm occasionally a victim of overwriting (see this post) but I try to get to the point in a reasonable amount of time. I don't think pretty writing should take precedence over writing that does what it's supposed to do, which is most likely entertain or inform or a combination of both.

What do the rest of you think? Is pretty writing a justification in and of itself, or should writers concentrate less on writing beautifully and more on writing to make their point?

Patrysha
06-23-2010, 06:49 PM
Depends on the purpose of the writing.

I have to concentrate really hard to not be flowery with my writing. It comes natural to me - I think because I've read wa-ay to many epics & fantasy novels and I love playing with words. I adore alliteration. Hyperbole, not so much...

I don't necessarily mean to be putting out pretty words, but they sometimes sneak in even when I am trying to do some serious writing. I tell them to stay with the personal blog, but they don't always listen to me. That is where editing comes in.

Sometimes I just say F-it - and let it run the way it came out of my head - but that would be for things I'm writing under my own name for my own purposes (or forum posts or journaling or whatever) and not the writing I do for others.

KristineS
06-23-2010, 07:22 PM
Patrysha, I totally agree with you. For my own purposes I do get a bit more flowery and showy, because I enjoy playing with language. I wouldn't do the same for my business writing though. I think I'm mostly wondering why people don't seem to make that distinction. There's a big difference between writing to entertain and writing to educate. I don't think the two have to be mutually exclusive, but I do think one or the other should be the clear goal.

I also think some people give in to the urge to show off. I read a book recently that was like that. It was non-fiction and the story was interesting, but the writer used so many tricks that I found myself being pulled away from the story. Now it is possible I noticed more of that stuff than most would because I write as well, but it got to be irritating after a while.

vangogh
06-23-2010, 08:44 PM
Kristine it depends on what you were reading of course. I tend to write a lot and I'm sure I could say what I want in less words. For me it's trying to be thorough and do everything I can to make sure people understand what I'm trying to say. Sometimes that means saying the same thing more than once.

The showing off stuff can be people thinking it makes them come across like better writers. If you use bigger words you must be better right? It never comes across that way though.


They're taking 5,000 words to say what they could have said in 500.

You must be part of the Twitter generation. What? It took you 140 characters to say that. I could have said it in 90.

KristineS
06-23-2010, 09:50 PM
I believe in length when length is necessary, but I sometimes think that people talk around their points instead of knowing where they want to go and then using the right amount of words to get there. Maybe what's missing is editing.

As for being part of the Twitter generation I was one of the people who initially abhorred Twitter because it was taking all the romance out of using language and communicating. I do think Twittering can be a good exercise though. It does force you to figure out how to say what you want to say concisely.

I also agree with you that the flowery writing can be people trying to show off. It just annoys me because it tends to get in the way of the story. To me that sort of writing sticks out like a sore thumb.

vangogh
06-24-2010, 01:58 AM
I was teasing about Twitter, which I take it you knew.

It's hard to know about the writing without seeing it. There could be so many reasons why someone writes that way, some legitimate and some not so much. Could be the author's natural style and it could be them trying to show off. Some authors once they reach a certain level of fame and when their books go to the bestseller list by default, don't seem to get as much editing, since there's no reason to spend the time. The book is going to be a success just because the author's name is on it.

Patrysha
06-24-2010, 03:21 AM
See and I try to avoid ten dollar words like the plague. Just because I know some doozies doesn't mean they have a place in most of what I write.

I really don't see the point in using big words for the sake of showing off my vocabulary. It irks me when other people do it. I think big words tend to set up a barrier to good communication. I don't want to confuse people or send them off to a dictionary...I want to relate to them, generate a response, touch them in some way or just share a thought or an opinion or a memory.

To me that's not pretty or flowery, it's just rude. The fact is that the general reading public has about an 8th grade reading level, that's generally what I try to aim for. The last time I intentionally wrote for a higher level was because I had to for my university essays.

vangogh
06-24-2010, 11:34 AM
Exactly. I generally opt for shorter words, though big words do find their way in when appropriate. I won't say I go for an 8th grade reading level, but I aim for something any high school student should be able to understand.

I think new writers sometimes tend toward the big words because they think it makes them sound more literary. The good ones learn the opposite is true.

Spider
06-24-2010, 12:04 PM
I find myself not thinking about it. I think I have a pretty good vocabulary - certainly above what might be called "8th.grade level," as I'm sure many 8th.graders are. (Some of the young folk I see today are really pretty smart.) But I'll be darned if I will dumb down my speaking or writing style for the less-articulate.

I choose the best word I know for the occasion - and by "best" I mean most appropriate, most accurate and most poetic. Yes, poetry does come into it - not in terms of rhyming but in terms of cadence - the rhythmic flow of sound - the ease with which the words can be spoken, even the written word.

The dictionary is my friend. I am constantly refering to a dictionary - for spelling and to make sure I am using a word accurately. (Example: the word 'cadence' above.)

But I don't see the sense of lowering one's standards because the rest of the world operates at a lower level. I believe the world would be a better place if we constantly attempted to raise our standards, rather than lower them.

Harold Mansfield
06-24-2010, 02:55 PM
I am definitely one that over writes and repeats myself using different terms. I have to constantly go back and trim things.

I don't really have the "pretty prose" thing going...actually I write my best when I am bitching sarcastically about something...I don't know why.

Give me an album review and I am at a loss for words, even if I like it, but give a piece legislation or a politician that I disagree with and I can spew venom, sarcasm and jokes for pages.
I can usually get to the point pretty quickly, but I like to savor it with all kinds of witticisms and bile.
I tend to read people, and follow comedians that do the same..so I guess different styles are going to appeal to different people.

What you are talking about only bothers me when it comes to videos. I can skim an article to get to what I want to read, and by pass all of the fluff, but nothing irritates me like watching a video review or tutorial and 3 minutes into it, the creator is still promoting something or making small talk.
That really burns me up.

KristineS
06-24-2010, 03:07 PM
But I don't see the sense of lowering one's standards because the rest of the world operates at a lower level. I believe the world would be a better place if we constantly attempted to raise our standards, rather than lower them.

I have to agree with you that working toward higher standards would be a good thing Frederick. I also don't think that good writing requires dumbing things down. Good writing is writing that works for the situation, flowery where flowery works and to the point when that is what's required. I think the problem today is that a lot of people don't necessarily know how to write for the particular venue in which their writing will be presented. Or they fall into the trap of thinking that big words make them look smart and length makes their writing look more substantial.

A good editor can save a writer from a host of problems, yet a lot of writers either don't like being edited or don't have an editor available to them.

KristineS
06-24-2010, 03:09 PM
What you are talking about only bothers me when it comes to videos. I can skim an article to get to what I want to read, and by pass all of the fluff, but nothing irritates me like watching a video review or tutorial and 3 minutes into it, the creator is still promoting something or making small talk.
That really burns me up.

I'm with you on that one Harold.

Writing scripts for video is an art in itself and requires different rules than other sorts of writing. As with anything else, a lot of the people who do video don't always know how to write for that particular medium.

Patrysha
06-24-2010, 06:59 PM
But I'll be darned if I will dumb down my speaking or writing style for the less-articulate.


I don't see writing for the intended audience as dumbing down or a lowering of standards. It's simply something I was made aware of during my foray into freelance writing for magazines and during the time I was working on my novels.

I liked being published, so I wrote what was expected :-)

And now it's just something that I try to keep in mind when writing for a general/mass market audience. If I am writing for a business market, the vocabulary gets stepped up and more complex sentences are used, if I am writing for children the vocabulary and sentence structure are simpler.

vangogh
06-24-2010, 08:26 PM
If you were writing for an audience who's native language is French, you'd write in French. You wouldn't write in English in order to get them to learn a new language.

Like Patrysha said it's about writing for an intended audience. You don't have to dumb down your writing to reach an audience that may not have the same size vocabulary as you do. What you're communicating can still be intelligent even if you use smaller words. Lots of big words are just fancy ways of saying the same thing as a smaller word. Sometimes there is a difference in meaning and when there is it might make sense to use the larger word if it's closer to what you want to say.

For example why say magnanimous if all you want to say get across is a person being generous. Less people are going to know what magnanimous means so you'll be communicating less effectively to those people. If you're writing to an audience that is likely to know the word magnanimous or you mean to use it in a way that incorporates the idea of the generosity having a noble quality then magnanimous might be the more appropriate word to use. Most of the time generous will be the better choice if you want to communicate effectively.

Dan Furman
06-24-2010, 09:12 PM
I dunno - I like/do both.

Good writing is good writing, regardless of whether it is long or short. Being INTERESTING is the key - if the writer can write well enough to make me want to read more, I'm usually pretty cool w/ that.

Some of the best business writing out there is in those long-copy sales pages.

vangogh
06-24-2010, 11:48 PM
True. I'm with you on the length of the writing. Interesting is the key. The people who do use big words solely for the sake of big words gets to me a bit, because I think they often use those words just to prove they know them. Those words might be appropriate in a dissertation, but not so much in a blog post. Depends on the audience.

KristineS
06-25-2010, 02:31 PM
I have to agree that interesting is key, and it may be that I notice a lot of the things I notice because I'm not interested in the content I'm reading. Because it's not hooking me, I find myself noticing the technique and not the content.

vangogh
06-25-2010, 03:06 PM
because I'm not interested in the content I'm reading

That's always going to make it feel longer than it is. Of course if the writing itself was better you'd probably be more interested in reading it.

ruthan
07-18-2010, 07:21 PM
I just joined the Forum, today in fact. This isn't such an active thread but the topic is my passion.
I've been a freelance writer for over 25 years.
SUBSTANCE COUNTS - A LOT!

First, no one has time for the window dressing.
Secondly, we use technology now so that we don't have to watch/listen to the hype.
Why would we want to include it in our writing?

Most importantly, people want value
You can give them value when you write quality content.
You want to give your clients and customers and your
prospects information that will help solve their problems.

What keeps your clients up at night? Provide the answer and become
the go to expert.

Hope this helps

cbscreative
07-19-2010, 04:54 PM
Some of this reminds me of a great T-shirt design:

Yes, I was home schooled
Yes, I have friends
I will try to use small words

vangogh
07-19-2010, 08:37 PM
Welcome to the forum Ruthan. I completely agree about substance. If you're writing doesn't have substance why are you writing in the first place.

However I would add that there's nothing wrong with having a style (as long as the substance is still there). That style should fit with what it is you're writing about, of course. A page meant to sell a product shouldn't have the same style as a personal journal narrating a story.

KristineS
07-20-2010, 06:26 PM
I think it also depends on what type of writing you're doing too. When I'm writing something for the companies for which I work, I definitely go more for substance than style. It's not about how pretty I can write, it's about what I have to say and how I can educate people.

When I'm writing personally, I probably go for a little more style. I still want to have substance as I have things to say, but I also like to play with language and sentence structure and tone a little more. I hope never to the point that it gets in the way of what I'm trying to say, but I do freestyle a bit more on the personal things.

vangogh
07-21-2010, 06:33 PM
Absolutely. Unless your writing solely for and to yourself, you're trying to communicate something to someone or someones. You have to think about what will communicate most effectively. Take something like txt speak. It's not something you want to use in a resume, but when writing a friend it's perfectly acceptable. With some audiences it's even preferred.

I look at style as an additional layer of communication. The content itself is one layer. Your style can add another layer on top to enhance the message of your content. An easy example might be wanting to get across that you can be trusted in a sales letter. You might be better using an informal style, even with the occasional grammatical mistake. An informal style can help you come across as more human and less like a sales robot.

greenoak
08-18-2010, 08:59 PM
this site might be interesting to you copywriters... Abby Kerr Ink (http://www.abbykerrink.com)
im more a wheres the beef? kind of girl....i like actual info and hopefully kind of direct and from someone slightly interested in what im interested in...so they know the key words and inside stuff...i get pretty tired of huge generalities and the ideas about the value of self esteem and optimism...also i like lotsof pictures... especially challenging ones....

jamesray50
11-27-2010, 12:38 AM
I love to read, but I'm the first one to admit that I can't write worth a darn. Read the content on my website and you'll see what I mean. I'm going to hire someone from this group to write it for me, and I appreciate her for doing it.

vangogh
11-27-2010, 12:21 PM
Jo (do you prefer Jo or Jo Ellen?) if the writing currently on the site is yours, I think you may be selling yourself short as a writer. If it's the writing of whoever you hired then my compliments to whoever you hired. I think it's great though that you can recognize what a professional copywriter can add to your business. So many people don't. Everyone can write. Few can write well. And even fewer can write well in a way that sells.

KristineS
11-28-2010, 04:00 PM
It's good to know your strengths and weaknesses, Jo Ellen, although I didn't think the original writing on your site was all that bad. I've seen worse. What I did notice is that there were places where someone who writes for a living could tighten things up, and some techniques that could be used to grab people's attention.

I'm with Vangogh on saying congratulations on realizing that you needed professional help. A lot of people don't and their sites suffer for it.

jamesray50
11-29-2010, 04:10 AM
Jo (do you prefer Jo or Jo Ellen?) if the writing currently on the site is yours, I think you may be selling yourself short as a writer. If it's the writing of whoever you hired then my compliments to whoever you hired. I think it's great though that you can recognize what a professional copywriter can add to your business. So many people don't. Everyone can write. Few can write well. And even fewer can write well in a way that sells.

The writing is mine. I have changed it since I first wrote it, but I still don't like it. The person I have decided to hire had written a suggestion for me for the first paragraph and it was so much better than what I have now, that I decided that she could do much better for the rest of the page than I have done. I think this is one area where I need to spend little money.

Patrysha
11-30-2010, 05:36 PM
And I am ever so grateful as the money I've earned on the project helps me tackle another bill :-) I am the one Jo Ellen hired to do write for her home page based on the quick rewrite I did on her 2nd review thread. I'm sure she'll have it up for critique soon enough :-)

vangogh
12-01-2010, 12:14 PM
Funny, because somehow I knew it was you that had been hired Patrysha. I don't know why, but your name popped into my mind immediately. :)

Jo Ellen what I found interesting was you do write pretty well and yet you still decided that hiring a professional made sense for your business. It's interesting because I see so many people who's writing is truly painful to read refusing to accept that they should hire anyone. I suspect it's simply a matter of not wanting to spend money and that since everyone can write (though not necessarily well) they don't see the value in hiring someone to write their copy.

I think two of the biggest reasons websites underperform are poor copy and poor design and yet far too many people ever see the value in either. Most only see the dollars they have to spend, while failing to see the ROI of those spent dollars.

cbscreative
12-01-2010, 02:11 PM
I think two of the biggest reasons websites underperform are poor copy and poor design and yet far too many people ever see the value in either. Most only see the dollars they have to spend, while failing to see the ROI of those spent dollars.

I agree. In fact, great writing can sometimes overcome bad design...within reason of course. There are ugly sites that perform very well. I've seen many business people get the design part right while seriously missing the mark on content (I would even go so far as to say the majority). With templates and WP themes, there's little excuse for producing a site that doesn't at least "look" professional. But the Internet is plagued with horrible writing.

KristineS
12-01-2010, 02:38 PM
There are still a lot of bad website designs out there too. The tools to create a decent design may be there, but not everyone knows they exist, or knows how to use them.

cbscreative
12-01-2010, 08:11 PM
There are still a lot of bad website designs out there too.

I certainly cannot deny that. But with everyone clamoring for attention, the ones with both bad design and bad writing are way down the list so they are not as visible. Most business people seem to "get it" that a visually appealing site is important, so they offend our eyes with platitudes and boring rhetoric instead. There are even content templates where you just fill in the blanks with your name and all the other blah blah blah reads like literally thousands of others who use the same template. If I didn't have principles, I could write and sell those templates and make a fortune. If I could profit from people who just help themselves to content without permission, short of filing a lawsuit, I could already be a billionaire.

greenoak
01-28-2011, 12:14 AM
i would want my site to look like my store, not necessarily professional..does that s eem wierd? ..also i would have to judge by results for the business...but then its hard becasue maybe the business is lacking or maybe the site.how do you tell and how do you really judge...

scottish
10-13-2011, 05:25 AM
I agree, there should be more "keep to the point" be short and sweet. If you end up with half an article it just means you only had a small amount of information anyway.

Karon Thackston
10-14-2011, 10:02 AM
Wow! You started quite a little topic here :) I agree with many others who have said they don't write "pretty" just for the sake of "pretty." Being an SEO copywriter, most of the writing I do is business-related. (Other types of copywriters would produce other kinds of copy.) Since I deal with businesses who want to convert and rank high, the writing has to be clear. This may be heading in a different direction (of sorts) but I've seen several studies that show clarity trumps cleverness every time. As far as copywriting for business purposes goes anyway.

vangogh
10-14-2011, 12:56 PM
I keep thinking of literary writers with this subject. For example Hemingway would clearly fall into the be direct and be clear camp. His writing could probably sell quite a lot of product. On the other hand someone like James Joyce writes in a less direct way, with more addition of his own style on top. Both are still great writers and both will have their loyal readers. Hemingway is certainly the more accessible of the two so more people will finish his novels, understand them, and be affected by them.

Naturally there are plenty of other writers in between.

If you're trying to sell something on a page or have a clear call to action you're directing people to then I think the clear copy is how you absolutely ned to write. If what you're writing is an ongoing blog then I think some style is going to help make more of a connection with your readers and keep them loyal. Probably not a James Joyce style, but still something in your own voice, something that's can be identified as you as opposed to anyone else.

To me one of the marks of great writing is being able to recognize the author from reading a few paragraphs. That's the author's voice, which is part style, showing through.

KristineS
10-14-2011, 01:37 PM
I think a lot of the style of a piece is dictated by its purpose. My style tends to be wordy. I like words and I like playing with words, and I have a tendency to use ten words where five would do. (The previous sentence would be an example of that! ;) Over time I've learned that sometimes I need to tone it down, say what I need to say and get out. Other times I can give myself more free rein on the style side of things. How I write on the blogs and how I write for a collateral piece and how I write for a website are all connected in some ways, but they're all different as well. Each type of writing has different requirements, and I wouldn't be doing a good job if I didn't acknowledge those requirements and take them into account when I wrote.

vangogh
10-14-2011, 02:32 PM
Exactly. I don't think there's one way to write for every purpose or for everyone reading. You have to consider the goals of your writing and the audience that will be reading it. Are you writing something for the moment or is your writing going to be something that's part of a much larger role.

For sales copy I think yes you want to be direct. Drop most or all of the style and get to the point. For other writing you have more freedom to add some style on top of the substance. The substance needs to always be there though. Style without substance is fluff.

Karon Thackston
10-15-2011, 10:18 AM
I don't think there's one way to write for every purpose or for everyone reading.

And there's the kicker. It's the "everyone reading" that matters most. Not our style. Not our preferences. But how we ultimately communicate with the reader on his/her level that will get the job done, whatever that job may be.

vangogh
10-17-2011, 12:34 PM
Yep. And yet sadly that seems like the most overlooked part of it all. Doesn't it feel like when you read a lot of copy or anything online it's being written for anyone, but you? It's the going on and on about some technical detail when all I want to know is the price and does it come in blue. Or it's the corporate speak being written for the bank loan when all I want to know is what the product actually does.

KristineS
10-17-2011, 01:19 PM
I saw somewhere one time, and I don't remember where, that all web site copy should be written at a 6th grade reading level or something like that. Could have gotten the grade wrong, but it wasn't very high. I think that's another error that people who write sites make, either dumbing things down to the point where it reads like it was written for an idiot, or writing so far over people's heads that they can't make any sense of what's being said. Educational and comprehension levels matter when writing for websites too.

vangogh
10-18-2011, 01:39 AM
I think that 6th grade reading level is right. The basic idea is more people have a 6th grade reading level than a 7th grade reading level, etc. Also you want to make things as simple and clear as you can so people can understand you.

You can't treat the people reading like idiots, but there's no reason to use big words when a small one will do. You can still write intelligently using 6th grade vocabulary.

That said if the audience for your site is a group of highly educated readers there's no need to write for a 6th grade reading level when you blog or write articles. I'd still opt for the simpler in sales copy though regardless of how educated my audience is.

bkolm75
11-29-2011, 04:01 AM
So I know this isn't exactly what most people are doing but I've been bootstrapping my startup. I got a pretty great book called The Copywriter's Handbook by Robert Bly. It is a really great resource for writing copy (not very thorough and a little dated about online copy though). Other than that I found it incredibly useful.

vangogh
11-30-2011, 12:38 PM
Robert Bly is one of the go to sources for copywriting advice. I haven't read that particular book, though I think it's on my wish list at Amazon. Definitely someone to read if you want to learn copywriting.

bkolm75
12-21-2011, 07:24 PM
I've always been a proponent of "both and" instead of "either or". It is quite possible to write a post with both style and allure while still containing substance. Another consideration is, just like any writing, you must keep the reader in mind. What are they looking for, style, substance or both?

christinagilman
12-23-2011, 04:07 AM
My favorite part about writing is actually the editing process. I take a strange (?) joy in trying to cut out all the unnecessary words, make my sentences clearer, and ultimately say what I want to say as simply as possible.

For instance, when writing in forums (like here) I do minimal to no editing. I just write "stream of conscious." This is how all my first drafts are. Get everything out of my head and onto the page. That's priority number 1.

Once I've done that, the editing process begins. Trim, shorten, clarify again and again until it flows, is easy to understand, and most importantly conveys the message that needs conveying.

I believe that clean, clear writing is just as hard to write as flowery, complicated writing. If you are really making an effort to sound flowery and Hemmingway-like, I would think that might take some extra time and effort.

The question is: for the purpose of what you are writing, where should your time be spent? Pumping up the text or trimming it down? I say, it really depends on who you are writing for and what your topic is.

Paul Elliott
01-17-2012, 07:24 PM
And there's the kicker. It's the "everyone reading" that matters most. Not our style. Not our preferences. But how we ultimately communicate with the reader on his/her level that will get the job done, whatever that job may be.


I believe that clean, clear writing is just as hard to write as flowery, complicated writing. If you are really making an effort to sound flowery and Hemmingway-like, I would think that might take some extra time and effort.

The question is: for the purpose of what you are writing, where should your time be spent? Pumping up the text or trimming it down? I say, it really depends on who you are writing for and what your topic is.

Beautifully stated! I suspect many of the things Karen was referring to come from poorly directed people with few skills who posess a laptop and Internet access.

vangogh
01-18-2012, 01:05 AM
for the purpose of what you are writing, where should your time be spent?

When writing here it's stream of consciousness for me too. I'll quickly scan a post to hopefully find typos and sometimes with longer posts I will spend a minute or two reading over the whole thing.

When I write for my blog I have a whole process set up that I started mainly to write the draft and edit it on separate days. That helps let the writer in me get the words down without worrying about editing it and letting the editor shape the draft into what I hope becomes a good post. My process goes through a few steps

1. Generating ideas - something I do all the time. I dump ideas into the program I use for writing whenever I come across something and here and there I'll spend an hour brainstorming ideas.

2. Outlining and notes - I'll go through the ideas that grab me and make a quick outline for how I think the post should be written. Then I'll do some research and make notes from the research and any thoughts I have. If I'm really good I'll reorganize the outline based on the notes.

3. Writing first draft - If I've done the notes well all I have to do is turn those notes into full sentences. Sometimes the writing is more stream of consciousness and sometimes it's a back and forth from the notes.

4. Editing - I'll spend another day going through a draft and shaping into something worth publishing

5. Proofing and links - This is another young of editing where I add links to the sources I used and also to some of my older posts where applicable

6. Adding images - Another round of proofing while I collect images to help further communicate the point of the post or simply to add some visual aesthetic to it.

7. Scheduling - I schedule posts a few days in advance so they can publish at a time when I'm usually still asleep. I'll give the post one last round of proofing and also rewrite the title to something more enticing.

I don't necessarily do all the above on different days other than to make sure the draft and the editing are on separate days. The rest may of may not get combined. I think with most posts I work on the over 3 or 4 days. Ideally I'll be about 2 or more weeks ahead of my blogging schedule so I have time for all of the above.

KristineS
01-18-2012, 02:30 PM
The question is: for the purpose of what you are writing, where should your time be spent? Pumping up the text or trimming it down? I say, it really depends on who you are writing for and what your topic is.

The venue matters. Some sites or products or causes can stand up to the more flowery language and others won't. So finding the right tone is key. I think you're exactly right that who you're writing for and about what you're writing are definitely of prime importance.

I also think style can also work for you or against you. I tend to write a bit more elaborately than some. For better or worse, it's my style and it works for me. After a while, people have started to identify me with that style, which is nice, but not so great for something that's supposed to be anonymous web copy. Of course, my writing is more blogging, feature writing and opinion based, for the most part, so it probably doesn't matter as much if my style is identifiable, but I do have to think about how I write a bit more when I write things like our company websites.

I think most writers tend to find a style that works for them and then find people who like that style. I want to say probably most writers can write in any style, but I'm not sure they'll write as well as they would with a style in which they feel comfortable. I can write short, Hemingwayesque prose. I just don't feel as comfortable doing it.

theo
01-19-2012, 11:05 AM
I'm a total information junkie so I'm probably your target audience. For what it's worth, I think it's important for articles to do a couple important things: 1) Entertain. 2) Educate. 3) Give me an option for more.

1) Entertain: If the article completely dry and lifeless, I lose interest pretty fast. EXCEPT if I'm literally reading the article because it is a tutorial. In that case, I want something that is completely straightforward, to-the-point and absent of any fluff.
2) Educate: In most cases I"m reading because I want to get something out of it. If an article tells me something I don't know, or gives thoughtful insight into something I'ms already familiar with, I'm totally down with it.
3) Give me an option for more: If I'm already reading your article, I'm obviously interested in the subject matter. I love it when articles send me to other useful articles, websites, tutorials or resources. That definitely grows my trust in the author.

vangogh
01-20-2012, 12:37 AM
I think we read for the same reasons. I'd add a strong opinion as another reason I might read. I'll also read something just for the writing itself, but it's because I'm interested in writing and in a way I'm learning by reading great writing.

The option for more is interesting. I always try to link out in my posts in a mix of other things I've written on the site and also to some of the resources I used in helping me write. Sometimes I link to more of one than the other depending on the specific article. It bugs me when people don't link out. There are times I might read a review of some software for example and the article never points me to the software. If the article does it's job then everyone reading is going to want to visit the site with the software, Why some sites refuse to do that is beyond me.