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November 07, 2007

Hospitable writing: 5 ways to engage your readers

One of the things I enjoy most about working as a writing coach is the chance to immerse myself in other people's writing: to learn their expressions, their words, their turns of phrase, to get familiar with the things that trip them up and the things that they're spectacularly good at - often without realizing so. And when I see something that works I enjoy figuring out what made it an interesting and enjoyable read, so I can learn from it, and then pass that learning on. 

Two of my clients delighted me with some draft pieces in the course of the last week, examples of what I would describe as engaging writing.  Somehow or another they'd managed to switch off their critics (and whether that's a negative boss or a fearsome inner editor we all have a critic in one shape or another) and write a light, enjoyable and engaging piece.  They had found a way to be most hospitable writers - and I wanted to pick out the how.  To learn for myself, to feed back to them, and to share with you in this week's podcast.

Engaging your readers (2 mins 47) talks you through 5 things you can do to be a hospitable writer:

Invite your readers in: make it easy for your readers to join you, start somewhere interesting, don't take forever getting ready

Don't forget to turn up: be present in your own writing, include your personal take on things

Be hospitable: Make it easy for your readers to zip through your writing with a clear structure and signposts, and plain simple language

Offer some refreshments: give your readers something to take away - information, facts, humour... delivered with with a refreshing, light touch

Let them get away again: don't witter on, make it easy for your readers to beat a hasty retreat.  Stop when you're done and quit while you're ahead (and it's probably sooner than you think)

Thanks for the inspiration guys - and the refreshment!


With the last point in mind this week's recording is under three minutes... You can listen to it by following this link or going to my gcast page.

Related posts:
How to be a hospitable writer
Writing with hospitality: leaving space for your reader to be

Joanna Young, The Confident Writing Coach
Because our words count

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Comments

Great post! Thanks for the tips.

Hi Melissa, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Part of me wanted to develop the idea further with a whole cocktail party theme to hospitable writing but I ran out of time (maybe just as well!)

Joanna

Great points, Joanna!

Personally, I often have difficulty with the last one, tending to write rather long, involved posts; though I do try to make them scannable by adding headings and white (or, in my case, blue) space to help readers quickly find the info that's of interest to them.

Thanks for the reminders!
Jeanne

Hi Jeanne

Scanning does help - and although your posts might be long it's because you're including a lot of info (like the recent one on the scam you uncovered for example)

But don't forget the 'let them get away' point - and remember it's bound to be quicker than you think it is!

Joanna

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