When people get ready to tell stories, a big question that comes up is voice. How do you cultivate a distinctive tone and style? When you tell a story aloud, do you put on a southern drawl or (if American) fake a British or French accent? Do you try to sound stiff and formal because it seems more businesslike?
Typically, I don’t get concerned about voice. Readers rarely notice one voice versus another. But sometimes you may want to find a tone for your particular message.
Here are 3 ways to find a tone for your writing.
1 – Practice writing in character.
Neville Medora wrote a lot of copy for AppSumo. In a blog post, he shares how. He built his style on the Sumo logo – the big Sumo wrestler cartoon. He created a character who was fat, brash, and politically incorrect. He kidnapped people to convince them to give the “Sumo-lings” a better deal.
So Neville could create some lines like, “I currently have Drew Houston of Dropbox tied up in the trunk of my car…..and won’t let him out till he gives the Sumo-lings 85% off a year subscription to DropBox.”
You can practice by writing in the style of characters on movies or
television. Or you can create a character or persona and write from their
2 – Copy sections of writing from your favorite author.
Pick an author who has a distinctive style – a popular author, not someone from literary fiction. Copy out chapters of their books, line by line. You’ll
get a feel for the cadence of their writing.
As you begin to write your own content, you’ll often find that your own
voice merges with theirs and becomes consistent.
Notice we’re not suggesting that you plagiarize by using their content. You’re just going for rhythm.
3 – Listen to the voices of your favorite clients.
Are they breathless or thoughtful? Do they speak slowly or a mile a minute?
Do they have accents? Do they tell a lot of jokes? Punctuate their
conversations with colorful language?
Skip the stereotypes. Some people over 50 – over 70! – swear like sailors.
Some young people speak in thoughtful, measured tones.
What phrases come up repeatedly in conversations?
For instance, when some asks, “Did you just get back from downtown?” they might answer, “I sure did!” or, “I did,” or, “You betcha.”
A few cautions …
Be yourself. Not everybody likes the light-hearted, breezy, funny copy
laced with words I can’t use in an email system. Most audiences respond well to humor, and most aren’t thrilled with somber pessimistic tones. Find your tribe.
Don’t expect to recognize your voice when you read something written by someone else. More than once, a client has asked me to please incorporate a specific paragraph or section, word-for-word. Every time I’ve followed instructions, they’ve come back with, “Where did you get that paragraph? You’ve got the tone all wrong! I’d never say that.”
Learn more about how your prospect’s mind works and the baggage they bring when they hire you. Click here for your free download.