There are many different skill sets involved in writing well and although I hear a lot of talk these days about how important good grammatical skills are, a 30-year career in writing has taught me that strong grammar is just the start. The very best writers go way beyond grammar and structure, they have a smooth and sophisticated style, and when they write, people take note.
Their writing engages audience attention.
Previous posts in my series on writing for audience engagement have stressed the importance of making sure you tell people why your topic matters, and I’ve explained the importance of ensuring you write from a perspective that shows you understand the challenges your audience face. This post examines the importance of adding emotion to your writing.
Writing with emotion doesn’t mean you’re overwhelming people with feeling – indeed, in a corporate environment that is rarely, if ever, appropriate. But if you want to make your work appealing and memorable, you want to mix in a few words that appeal to the emotional world of your readers. Writing that’s precise and crisp gets the point across nicely and that should always be our goal. But writing that hints at a life outside the corporate box reaches people where they really live. It confirms their humanity.
Here’s an example. I recently wrote an article for a corporate client about the redevelopment of a municipal park situated on the outskirts of a bustling community. Digging into the information available about the park online, I discovered that the park was said to be haunted. Obviously that’s not a detail we’re going to cover in a business article, but it led me to wonder what was on the land before the park got there and bingo! It turned out the property had been the site of a bustling village in the 1800s. I tracked down an expert on local history and heard a world of interesting detail about that area’s notable past. What a gold mine!
The information allowed me to extend my article about the relocation of a bridge and the installation of new playground equipment into a story that hinted at the hopes and dreams of early settlers who came, and ultimately left, what was then a fairly remote area of Canada. The park redevelopment was important for people living in the neighbourhood at the time; the knowledge about the community that preceded theirs imparted a sense of historical stability to the project. It captured the imagination in a way statistics about machinery could not.
If you missed my previous posts about audience engagement, I invite you to take a look at my overview, my take on “Why” and my information about soothing reader pain. And if you have any comments, I’d love to hear what you have to say!
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