Write Like You Talk?
Since content writing is so important to internet marketing success, I hope the following is helpful.
Its purpose is not necessarily to help you write better text, but rather to remove a possible “writing roadblock.”
This is applicable only to website content writing. It does not apply to the text for podcasts, narrations, or video dialog.
“Write like you talk” is a key piece of advice some how-to-write books espouse.
Sounds simple enough.
Problem is, it is not.
It makes many types of writing including website content writing difficult. It can really stick in your brain and so trap you. Then, you get nowhere. So for website content authors, it is generally nonsense.
Website content writing is mainly descriptive, explanatory, or commentary.
Excluding text for podcasts, narrations, and video dialog, “write like you talk” works best for story-telling, speeches, and speaking mechanically. These aren’t usually website content items.
The reason is that “write like you talk” doesn’t work for most website content writing is that spoken language has a great variety of characteristics. It is not simply strings and groupings of words. These characteristics do not lend themselves to direct transcription using only “the text of the talk.” Two of these characteristics are word emphasis and change-in-pace of delivery.
Here is an example of the impact of these two characteristics.
Take the statement: “I did not say he beat his wife.”
A mere eight words. Plain English. Each word easily understood.
There are at least seven easy ways to say this statement which can impart/indicate seven different interpretations. These seven ways only use “word emphasis”. A change-in-pace of delivery is not needed. It can help however and increases the count of ways.
The seven easy versions are as follows:
1.“I did not say he beat his wife.”
2.“I did not say he beat his wife.”
3.“I did not say he beat his wife.”
4.“I did not say he beat his wife.”
5.“I did not say he beat his wife.”
6.“I did not say he beat his wife.”
7.“I did not say he beat his wife.”
Bold-italics words are emphasized when spoken.
While not necessary, a pause after an emphasized word increases the power of the emphasis. Speaking one part of the sentence faster than the other part also works.
The first, if read visually or spoken simply (not mechanically) without word emphasis or change-in-pace of delivery, is a simple statement. Speech and writing use the exact same words.
The second, with I emphasized, but no other change, implies that it wasn’t I who made the statement, if it was made at all. While “I”, pause, “did not say he beat his wife,” is more powerful. It more effectively proclaims that he didn’t say “he beat his wife.”
The third, with say emphasized, but no other change, expresses that he didn’t say it, but may still have communicated it. Again, a pause after the emphasized word, increases its power. Even better, keep the emphasis and pause, but deliver the “I did not say” faster than the “he beat his wife.” Pause and speed change, no emphasis, also do the job.
Play with 4, 5, 6, and 7 yourself.
Try writing any of these ways as you’ve “talked” them.
For example, with the fourth one the easy way, you might have to write:
“With an emphatic ‘he’, he said, ‘I did not say he beat his wife’.”
Or, more powerfully,
“With an emphatic ‘he,’ he said, ‘I did not say he,’ pause, ‘beat his wife’.”
And, yet more powerfully,
“With an emphatic ‘he,’ he said briskly, ‘I did not say he,’ pause and a slower ‘beat his wife’.”
You can get the job done, but it isn’t “write like you talk.”It is very different and isn’t usually the right style for web content writing.
Just don’t get blocked.
Hope this helps.
Please note that the idea of and exact sentence of this example were not originated by me. What I’ve originated was the exact discussion of and its use as an example to support my contention that “write like you talk” is a website content “writing roadblock.” This example is taken from my memory of a CD talk for salesmen, to help them sell better. The multi-CD set is titled “Zig Ziglar ‘s Secrets Of Closing The Sale” by, of course, Zig ZIglar.