Chances are very good that you are an authority on some topic. For experienced travel agents, you are an authority on travel: how to get the best values, what to avoid, how to get there and what to do once you are there. But even if you are a novice travel agent, your life experiences have no doubt provided you with a topic on which you can write with authority. Therein is the beginning to what writers call a “voice” – the characteristic tone and style you use to convey your ideas. Some writers have a humorous voice, others instructive. Some choose a voice that is objective and neutral. Whatever voice a writer selects, it is important that it be authentic and consistent. Here are a few ways to discover and develop your own writing voice.
Each writer makes stylistic choices when they write and the sum of those choices equals voice. The writer’s word choice, the degree of detail, the images chosen combine to create a particular tone that has an impact on the reader. In making these choices, the writer injects his or her personality into the article. If the topic is of interest to the reader, but the voice fails to resonate, the article will likely go unread. Inappropriate word choices, dry prose or a lack of personality can kill even the most interesting topics. Choice of voice, therefore, is key to the success of your writing efforts.
Good writers care about their topics, and their enthusiasm shows. A good writer has an authentic voice and speaks from experience. The reader inherently trusts the reader’s honesty and integrity on the chosen topic. The reader may disagree with the writer’s conclusions, but the writer’s passion will seldom leave any doubt. When you write about a topic, an excellent technique is to demonstrate that you care about your topic by having a distinct point of view, an angle on the topic that is personal to you. Your destination report might read like a sightseeing list unless you begin with a reflection on some personal aspect of your experience in the destination.
I consider myself a fledgling writer. Therefore, I read as many other writers’ work as possible. If you have an ambition to write, the first requirement is to read. With that in mind, I will offer up a couple of articles I have written as examples to illustrate these points.
Let’s look at an article titled Alternative Marketing I wrote several years ago. I could have given a very factual report on the Alternative Christmas market I visited. Instead, I chose to interject my personal observations about way the Alternative Market affected me. There are some strong, honest statements in the word choices and impressions, and the introduction of those personal moments carries the tone of the article. For a destination piece where I used a similar technique, look at Tea with Locals. I began with a description of drinking Turkish tea and used that experience as a way of organizing the story. An article on travel agents was, hopefully, filled with an authentic passion for the profession.
Full consideration of your audience will assist selecting appropriate content and tone of voice. Your voice will be more authentic when it speaks directly and is recognizable and sympathetic to your readers. A reader may encounter your article in their email inbox or some equally private space where only recognized friends are truly welcome. With that in mind, the importance of knowing and empathizing with your target audience is evident. Because your initial readers will come from your existing client list, work back and forth between your branding message and the demographic characteristics of your existing readership to determine what content and tone of voice is most likely to be welcomed.
Note also that every category of article may have a different tone and voice. The articles in The 365 Guide, for example, are more instructive in nature and therefore the tone is more subdued than when I write an editorial piece for the Publisher’s Corner. In the Publisher’s Corner articles I will inject more humor, more argumentative word choices, appeals to emotion, and often will endeavor to lead the reader through a narrative to persuade. In the 365 Guide, my word choices will be more limited, there will be less humor, and I will appeal more to fact and reason than emotion. In each instance, I am making choices based on what I deem to be the appropriate tone and topic for the article’s audience. Yet, within the confines of each of the two columns, the “voice” should be consistent. All Publisher’s Corner articles should carry a similar voice. The 365 Guide articles will have a different voice, but should be consistent from article to article. In this way, the reader knows what to expect and can become comfortable with the writer.
Decide on the appropriate tone for your purpose and audience, and write authentically for the reader. Find your voice by injecting your personality into your topic. Infuse the article with your beliefs, your point of view. Be consistent and strong in your delivery and, with practice, you will have found your voice.
Tomorrow: Your Choice of Topics
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