1. Who
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    Who Member

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    An example of non-conversational writing?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Who, Oct 4, 2014.

    Hello,

    I've been reading a lot about how writers should writer conversationally, as if to a friend. Somehow I have the feeling that I do this already, but I wasn't sure.

    I've read examples of what it is supposed to mean to write that way, but I was wondering if any of you had some examples of writing which is not conversational. Or maybe you could better explain what not to do when it comes to this style of writing?

    Hope this makes sense!!

    Who
     
  2. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Patent search.
     
  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not sure exactly what you (or 'they') mean about you 'should' write conversationally.

    Unless 'they' mean you should be careful not to use words or phrases that are formal?

    In other words, study a brochure that comes from, say, your local council. Or maybe the erudite preface to a book of Plato? And then don't write like that, if you're creating a piece of fiction? I'd go along with that advice. (In fact, these people could probably benefit from a course in how to write conversationally!)

    But do 'they'—the givers of writing advice—mean you should use 'first person' and write everything as if you were sending it to your friend in a letter or email? While this is fine, if it's what you want to do, it's not so hot if that's not what you want to do. I would never say somebody 'should' write like that.

    What you can do, to help keep an informal TONE going, is imagine that your friend is going to be the first person to read your book. Forget trying to please Joe Q Public, or Amos A Critic. Write so your friend will enjoy reading it. I think that's the best advice, really.

    In fact, I do this myself. I always write 'for' a particular individual. Not as a letter to them, but as something I want them, in particular, to enjoy reading when it's done. I imagine them reading it, or imagine reading it out loud to them.

    In fact, you should read it out loud. That will certainly catch overly-formal language, run-on sentences, over-use of particular words, etc. If you (or another person) can whizz through the piece, out loud, without tripping up, then I reckon you've nailed 'conversational tone.'
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2014
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  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Sounds like an odd piece of advice - I've never read anything like that, but then again, I almost never read "how to" books on writing.

    Writing conversationally - I don't honestly know what on earth that's supposed to mean, and depending on how you interpret it, it could turn into bad advice. For example, my posts on the forum I'd consider as "conversational", or in an email, perhaps - but for that to work in narrative for the length of an entire novel, that's pretty difficult and generally ill-advised. Certain books do take on that sorta style - Bridget Jones was written like someone was jotting down notes in a diary - I managed a total of about 50 pages before I gave up because it was so frigging annoying. First person narratives, esp chick lits, tend to take on more informal voices - but this sorta voice would be highly unsuitable for the average say, suspense thriller, forget even which POV you're taking.

    How you write should fit the purpose you have for the scene/passage/sentence/character. Usually it would fit the genre but does not have to. Whether you're writing in first person, third limited or third omniscient would likely have an effect on the sort of voice you take on, for example whether your third person omniscient narrator is a character unto himself/herself or if it's simply narration.

    To say, "You should write conversationally" seems misleading, because it's not always appropriate, and what is "conversational" can be subjective and open to interpretation, meaning the advice, even if it's not bad advice, it's at best useless advice, because students cannot really interpret the advice accurately for it to be effective.

    My personal advice - forget the stuff you can't understand or simply confuse you. Pick up stuff that are actually useful to you. Read a lot. Write a lot. Ask for critique and edit. You'll be just fine :) There's more than one way to write, in any case, so you're not gonna be doomed if you forget about this. Maybe you'll read the same advice somewhere else where it's explained much better and then, if you find it useful, feel free to keep it in mind. For now, I just wouldn't worry about it.

    Just always make sure whatever you write, write it in a way that's suitable for the purpose you intended for it. Then you can't go far wrong :)
     
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  5. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Write conversationally" is good advice for non-fiction writing. Blog posts, articles, advertising. It's also excellent advice for anything that's usually written in official-speak - company reports, government documents etc - if your end goal is reader comprehension, but usually if you've been commissioned to write one of those it'll need to be signed off by someone who thinks it should be in official-speak, so it's rubbish for the actual end goal of 'get paid'.

    Everyone here is applying the advice to fiction, because that's what we mostly write. It can work for fiction, but it's far less of a hard and fast rule.

    For an example of something written non-conversationally, look up any government document that includes the word 'stakeholder'.
     
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  6. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Does it mean you are talking to your readers like a conversation?
     
  7. Who
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    Don't ask me, people! It's what I'm asking you. If it simply means not writing like you're doing a speech or a business contract, then I'm probably set already.
     
  8. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    It means not writing like you're doing a bad speech. A good speech feels like it's aimed directly at you - conversational writing at its best.
     
  9. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't like styles that feel as if they're specifically addressing the reader. It feels as if I'm peering into a world and the character's are peering back out at me. Also, sometimes the characters are too forcefully chummy. It feels as if I just got to a party and some blowhard has put his arm around me and started dragging me around introducing me to everyone and shoving unwanted information at me. I guess it can work ( anything done well can work ) but I've seen so many newbie writer's try it and totally screw up their story ( myself included )
     
  10. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Fiction can be written like diaries from a fictional character to make them sound like they are real. It keeps the readers focus and well connected.
     
  11. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Unfortunately, diaries are often very, very dull. I'd say it's pretty hard to make a diary-style narrative sound interesting. A number of chick lit uses that style, detailing every last mundane little detail because it would be in a diary and MY WORD is it boring!

    It's a shame cus I actually rather enjoy chick lit - but it's so hard to actually find a good one :(
     
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  12. aikoaiko
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    aikoaiko Contributing Member

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    I think John Steinbeck said something once about choosing a specific person you know and writing the story to them, but this may not qualify as Conversation. I think you do need to relax enough that you're not writing fiction like science reports, LOL, but aside from this some of it will be conversational and some will be more formal, depending on need and circumstance.

    A purely conversational piece would probably just be a journal or diary, but a mix of it with other 'voices' would just be good writing, IMO.
     

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