How to sound more human

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post about how to sound more human…..

Are you a writer who sounds like a robot rather than a living, breathing human being?

I’ve edited the work of many writers who fall into the former category. (And a surprising number of them were lawyers.) A recent post on the ProBlogger website, provides 10 easy-to-follow tips that will help you add more liveliness to your writing.

Here are the tips:

  1. Use more contractions. You’ll, he’ll, she’ll are words that express the way we talk rather than write. The closer you can make your writing to talking, the friendlier you’ll seem.
  2. Use shorter, simpler, clearer words. Never wrote “utilize” when you can write “use.”
  3. Don’t use exclamation marks. I know I over-use these marks in my emails but I try to avoid them when I’m blogging. They make writers seem immature.
  4. Avoid using jargon. Unnecessarily technical language is unfriendly and exclusionary. Excise it.
  5. Proofread before you publish. We all make mistakes. Just try to catch them before others do.
  6. Create a style guide. A style guide allows you to decide how you are going to use certain specific words or phrases so you can ensure consistency. For example, I use the Canadian Press style guide as I am Canadian. (This explains why I spell colour with a U and theatre with the last two letters reversed.)
  7. Hire an editor. Yes, this is an expensive choice but if you don’t have the money see if you can find a natural editor in your midst. Many executive assistants are excellent editors.
  8. Make it all about your reader. Try to use words like you and you’re so that your “voice” reflects your readers’ point of view, rather than your own.
  9. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. When you write, imagine you’re writing to a real live individual. The best way to sound human yourself is to imagine you’re writing to other human beings. Interesting, isn’t it?
  10. Don’t be snarky. Many otherwise excellent writers know they’re pretty good and have a hard time keeping the snark out of their voice. You actually aren’t better than everyone else so be sure to show a little modesty.

As Problogger Darren Rowse puts it: “Depending on the words you use you may come across as trustworthy or shifty, stiff or relaxed, friendly or unfriendly, genuine or fake, robotic or human.” Make an effort to be more human. Your readers will appreciate your efforts.

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