You may think that nonfiction writing has to be formal, detailed and deathly dull.
Unless you’re writing official or legal documentation, then you can (and should) write in a freer, more informal and conversational style.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘conversational writing’, then I’ll summarise it for you… Write as if you’re talking directly to one reader.
Now, as I’ll explain as we go on, this doesn’t mean that your writing should be fragmented, littered with bad grammar and loaded with expletives! Not at all.
You’re still going to write in a grammatically correct way, only you’ll keep your language simple, your sentences short – and your message will always be directed personally at your reader.
At this point, you may be asking: Why should I write in this manner?
Well, take a look at popular blogs and nonfiction books. You will discover that most of them employ a conversational style of writing. It’s obvious that the majority of people enjoy reading nonfiction as if the writer was talking directly to them.
I read a ton of nonfiction content every year, and one thing I’ve noticed is that conversational writing styles vary significantly. What follows, is my personal advice to you, on what writing style most readers appear happiest with.
Come Join the Conversation
The example sentence below is in a standard, formal style:
“There will be an interval at half-time, which it is expected will last for around 30 minutes, and visitors should return to the auditorium when the bell sounds.”
Here, I’ve transformed it into a conversational style:
“There’ll be a break at half-time, for around 30 minutes. You should return to the auditorium when the bell rings.”
Note how the second sentence is shorter, more direct – and definitely easier to understand. It makes use of contractions (there will becomes there’ll), and a conversational tone that is aimed directly at the reader (visitors should becomes you should).
Other tricks for writing conversationally include:
- Sticking to first and second person point of views (i.e. I and you).
- Communicating information through storytelling.
- Starting sentences with And or But.
- Asking the reader questions.
- Using appropriate humour.
Not Everything Needs to Be Said
There is a fine line between conversational writing, and just plain, bad writing. Take a look at the example sentence below:
“Yeah, sure man, I think, er, we could do it, er, first thing in morning.”
To be honest, this sentence may have sounded okay when spoken, but clearly, it’s a disaster when written down!
Here’s my revamped version:
“Yes, for sure. I believe first thing in the morning will be fine.”
Hopefully, you will agree, that the amended version reads fluently, while still retaining an informal and casual style.
To keep your conversational writing professional, I recommend avoiding the following:
- Slang or swear words (these could offend some of your readers).
- Writing in SMS language (e.g. BRB or LOL).
- Smiley faces and other emoticons (way too casual).
- Rambling content (stick to your message).
- Bad grammar (leave this to the graffiti artists!).
Be Current, Be Conversational
Conversational writing is what most nonfiction readers are now searching for.
They want to be informed in a quick, fun and easy manner. They also want to feel the personality of the writer.
Let’s face it, humans are social beings. And we’ve used the power of conversation to pass countless stories to each other throughout the ages. Tap into this immense legacy, by keeping your writing short, informal and story-based.
Remember… If a reader believes that you’re speaking directly to them – then you’ve successfully mastered the art of conversational writing.
And the best news of all?
You’ll never be short of readers.