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Breaking All the Writing Rules = Success?

14th August 2012 Posted in Blog, Communication, Content 4 Comments

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Let’s face it. Many people avoid writing because there are so many rules. They’d rather let someone else handle the logistics of grammar and punctuation because they can’t be bothered to learn.

But do you really need to follow all the rules?

Imagine what would happen if you were to go to a website to read about a company. If the writer were to follow all the rules of writing, the copy would be technically terrific, however, would the audience agree?

Looking at some of the most popular blogs and websites today, you will find a growing trend: conversational writing. This is writing that sounds like you’re listening to someone else talk, rather than reading something on a piece of paper.

Audiences can ‘hear’ the words directed to them, and they feel like they are a part of a conversation instead of an academic paper. Perhaps there’s a split infinitive here and there, maybe even a dangling modifier, and an English teacher might cringe at the presence of these errors (and probably write a comment to the writer).

However, isn’t it more important to be effective and to relate to a reader than to follow all the rules? That’s the question to debate, not Strunk and White’s attitude.

Just as there is a place for writing that would make your teachers smile, there is also a place to meet the reader where they are in their lives. They want to be affected, they want to be impacted, and they want to learn something.

If you meet these goals, then you’re on the right track with your writing, especially when it comes to marketing. Rules be damned.

P.S. Yes, you need to follow spelling rules. (Sorry.) A misspelled word can lead to confusion, which is not the goal.

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  1. By Allanon 16th, August 2012 at 11:03 am

    Wow! How refreshing. I think one of the reasons many people resist using technical documentation (like user manuals) is because it has a cold, authoritarian feel to it. A conversational approach would help the user connect more with what they are reading, contributing to a positive experience with the software (depending on the nature of the software and the industry of course). When I write, I often imagine a crusty gammarian standing over my shoulder, ready to pounce on me for slightest mistake. The reality is, many readers are just trying to get an answer to their problem – they don’t have the time to review your writing style.

  2. By editoron 16th, August 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Thanks for your viewpoint Allan – good points.

  3. By jsolferinoon 22nd, August 2012 at 8:58 pm

    I think following the rules can lead to a better a understanding. But first of all, everybody who writes has to think about the audience someone wants to reach and what will he gain. To explain it: What do you want with your writing and for whom is it.

  4. By editoron 23rd, August 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Thanks for your comment, jsolferino. Yes, you definitely want to consider your audience. And, I think, you need to first know the rules before you can determine if and when the should be broken.

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