To effectively convey an idea or concept to the reader, an author must write with authority. Readers want to sense that a writer is confident and knowledgeable about her topic. Part of writing with authority is attitude, but there are some technical skills that novice writers can master to write with a stronger voice and convey expertise.
Know the Topic
To write with authority, the author should actually have some authority -- meaning expertise, skill or background -- in the topic about which she is writing. If the writer has spent 10 years as a firefighter, she's qualified to write about how to prevent house fires. The writer should also keep up with the latest research in the field and know what other leading experts are saying on the topic. Without using too much jargon, the writer should use language and terms that are appropriate for the subject.
As suggested in the enduring writing guide, "The Elements of Style" by William Strunk and E.B. White, the writer should assert the facts without qualification. "Many believe that climate change is real" is not as strong a statement as, "Climate change is real." "It is my opinion that the Bears will win the game" doesn't have the authority of "The Bears will win the game." These types of qualifiers -- "I think," "it seems to me" or "it's likely that" -- are common and acceptable in everyday conversation, but for an author's words to carry authority, he must omit such phrases.
A writer could easily cower before the keyboard, wondering why anyone should care to read her thoughts on any subject. One way to write with confidence is to communicate about a subject that is well known to the author. The writer can also share personal anecdotes that reveal expertise in the subject matter. For example, in the essay, "I am Adam Lanza's Mother," writer Liza Long shares her experience as the parent of a mentally ill child. Clearly, she has experience and expertise in this area. Authors should avoid writing about topics that lack personal interest for them. Passion about a topic infuses writing with confidence and conviction.
Develop Your Voice
A writer's voice is her particular sensibility and way of putting words together. In "Writer's Digest," Cris Frees notes that a writer's voice should be authentic. Literary agent Donald Maas says the key to developing voice is for the writer to give herself the freedom to say things in her own distinctive way. Whatever path the writer takes to developing her voice, doing so will lend her writing a powerful, one-of-a-kind perspective that will convey authority.
- Walden University: Writing With Authority, Even If Your Mama Taught You Not To
- Copyblogger: How to Write With Authority for a Loyalty-Starved Market
- Romance University: How to Write With Authority With Michelle McLean
- Writer's Digest: Voice In Writing, Developing a Unique Voice
- Huffington Post: I am Adam Lanza's Mother
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