Wednesday, May 20, 2020

10 Tips for Irresistible Writing, Part 2


by Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28


Connection. We want it during a pandemic. We want to feel connected to people we care about but can’t see in person. To stay grounded in an uncertain time through friendship and interaction. Even if it’s on Zoom.  

We also want connection in the book world—authors connecting with readers and readers connecting with their favorite authors. We can connect through social media, emails, and websites, but an ongoing connection that we can never take for granted is the one we build with readers in our books. We build a rapport with them through what we say and how we say it. 

This month I continue my miniseries of ten tips for irresistible nonfiction writing. In this post, you’ll find two tips that focus on our writing voice (how we’re conveying our message), and next month I'll share two tips that focus on takeaway (the essential “what” of our message). If you missed the first post in the series, visit 10 Tips for Irresistible Writing, Part 1.

How can we create irresistible writing that builds a powerful connection with our readers?

Tip #4: Don’t assume your reader is doing something wrong.

Bam, bam, bam. We can tell when an author is getting on our case, can’t we? It comes through in their tone and wording. They may genuinely want us to be better and do better. But is a guilt trip the best way to promote change? 

I’m amazed at the patience of God. I can sit in silence before Him, grateful for the thousands of times He has shown me the truth gently, steadily, and in new ways. Sometimes I have needed “a good talking to,” but it appears that God’s preferred method of transformation is a daily love that manifests itself in truth taught, grace given, and faithfulness expressed.

So how can we address a felt need and at the same time give the reader some breathing space when they don’t have a particular problem? Or when they are growing? We can speak to them as a friend, use an encouraging voice, and include key words that show we’re giving them some credit. We use words like “can” or “may” to show that we could all have this problem, but as the author, we’re not assuming it’s theirs. We also remember words like “sometimes” or “often” to show that this problem happens, but perhaps not all the time in the reader’s life or our own. 

For example, I might say something like this in a paragraph about breaking harmful habits—“Bad habits are like deep ruts in the road that are difficult to escape. As we navigate our way through life, we may find ourselves caught in one.”1 As the author, I included myself in the rut, and I didn’t assume the reader was caught in one too. (We “may” find ourselves in one.) An encouraging voice never excuses sin, but it brings God’s grace into the message and doesn’t use condemnation as a tool for change. 

Tip #5: Never divorce your writing from emotion. 

Years of writing college papers and reading emotionless textbooks trained my brain to write factually. Four years after I graduated college, I went through a different version of graduate school—learning to write conversationally. My first Bible study took me three years on and off to write. My biggest struggle, besides setting aside time to write, was my voice. How was I supposed to write about Scripture without sounding like a textbook? 

Irresistible writing not only appeals to the mind but to the heart. Emotion is our ally in stirring a soul to break free, seek healing, let go, hold on, or whatever it is we’re inspiring our readers to do. Writing that is infused with emotion builds a heart connection between author and reader. 

We infuse emotion into our writing by the stories we share, the details we include, the words we choose, and the cadence we possess. Sometimes we can share personal stories that show our inward struggles and build a rapport with readers who can relate to what we’ve been through. They’ll want to see how we survived and how God helped us. The words we choose can display the passion we feel about our message and the overwhelming delight, peace, or relief that God’s Word brings to our hearts. Our word choice can also move readers to put God’s Word and our application of it into action. Our cadence of sentences and phrases can create a crescendo of takeaway, trumpeting our call to heart transformation, or it can dissolve into a whisper of comfort that says, “I’ve been there too, and God is always with you.”

Which of the two tips above do you most often use to build a connection with your readers? Tell us in the comments below, and join the “connected” conversation! 

1 Katy Kauffman, Breaking the Chains: Strategies for Overcoming Spiritual Bondage (Buford, Georgia: Lighthouse Bible Studies, 2017), 40. 

TWEETABLE

Katy Kauffman is an award-winning author, an editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and a co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies. She loves connecting with writers and working alongside them in compilations, such as Feed Your Soul with the Word of God, Collection 1 which is a 2020 Selah Awards finalist. Lighthouse’s newest compilation, The Power to Make a Difference, released January 2020. 

In addition to online magazines, Katy’s writing can be found at CBN.com, thoughts-about-God.com, the Arise Daily blog, and two blogs on writing. She loves spending time with family and friends, making jewelry, and hunting for the best donuts. Connect with her at her blog, The Scrapbooked Bible Study, and on Facebook and Twitter.

5 comments:

  1. This is another great list to keep close by as a resource. Thank you, Katy, for pointing out things I can easily forget to monitor. Checking for words like may or can does change the tone of an article or devotion.

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Barbara! It does soften the voice, doesn't it? Or allows for the realm of possibility at least. Thanks!

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  2. Katy, I had to change my style of writing from academic to a conversational tone also. In my WIP I include a lot of personal experiences to convey emotion and identify with the reader.

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    1. That's great! It can be tough, but it's definitely worth it. I like it that you share enough personal experiences to connect with the reader. Thank you!

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  3. Thank you,Katy for these reminders to come along aside and not assume everyone has the problem you're writing about. I try to use may and can.

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