Friday, October 12, 2007

How To Change Your Writing Style

When you work as a freelance writer, you often need to alter your writing style to meet your clients’ needs. One day you might be writing for a finance publication; the next day you might supply content for a dating site. This is a normal part of the life of a working writer.

Sometimes you may need to write for different nationalities. While formal English around the world may be pretty similar, informal writing will vary depending on whether you’re writing for an American, Canadian, British or Australian audience. Whatever the case, you need to nail the style and the vocabulary to get the job done right.

Elements Of Style

So how do you change your writing style when you need to? And how do you know what makes each style different from the others? One of the first steps is to identify your own writing style. I know that I usually write in a British style. That means long sentences and clauses. Writing web content for American readers means short sentences. It’s like good good web content writing, except that you use one main idea per sentence.

If you’re an American writing for a British publication, then you can use long, complicated sentences. If you’re British and are writing for an American publication, keep it short and direct. Make good use of style guides to find out about typical word usage.

Watch Your Language

The language is different, too. Let me give you an example. I recently wrote some articles on real estate for a UK firm. That meant that instead of ‘real estate’ I said ‘property’. Instead of ‘realtor’, I said ‘estate agent’. Instead of ‘adjustable rate mortgages’, I said ‘variable rate mortgages’. A good tip for finding out the right vocabulary is to visit a reputable site based in the country. For finance, I use the Motley Fool, which has both a US and a UK version.

Slang And Spelling

Apart from serious articles, it’s useful to understand the current slang. Try visiting a chat room to see how people from different places express themselves. You can also read newspapers and magazines from those countries. A final tip is to watch your spelling. Get a good dictionary or online dictionary to check the spelling that’s appropriate for a particular audience.

It’s easy to write successfully for different audiences. In fact, writing in a different style is a bit like acting. While you write the piece you pretend to be someone else. Once you have written the article, you go back to being you.


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