You've probably heard certain rules for academic writing from many of your English teachers, such as to avoid the use of second person, conjunctions and informal language. However, this type of voice isn't best for all writing assignments. Some genres, such as personal essays, movie reviews and instruction sheets, require you to write in a conversation style, a style of writing that emulates person-to-person communication. A conversation style can be achieved through awareness of your personal speech patterns, writing brief, concise sentences and avoiding complicated language.
Personal Speech Awareness
The writing advice website Write to Done explains that knowing how you personally speak can make you more aware of what conversation style sounds like. Developing "an ear for speech" can help you distinguish between formal and informal communication. You can also practice this skill by actually writing a draft of your paper while being attentive to how the language sounds. Although it might feel awkward at first, talking to yourself out loud about your topic might give you ideas for phrases to make the style unique to you.
The use of the pronoun "you," better known as second-person point of view, is often shunned in many essay assignments because it draws attention to the reader in a way that can be distracting. However, because a conversation style piece is meant to directly address audiences, using "you" can catch the reader's attention, make them feel personally invested in your message and make them more likely to take action if you are offering advice or persuasion. Gonzaga University calls this reader-focused language "the you view."
Let Down Your Grammar Guard
Your English teachers have probably also told you to never end a sentence with a preposition, avoid using contractions and to never start a sentence with a conjunction. However, people typically don't follow these rules in informal communication. In a conversation styled essay, following grammatical rules to perfection can make your writing seem stiff and unfriendly, the exact opposite of what you want to achieve. Therefore, you shouldn't be afraid to write, "It was an idea I hadn't thought of" instead of "It was an idea of which I had not thought."
Sometimes, students feel tempted to write long sentences and use big words to make themselves seem smarter. This tactic, though, will fail in conversation writing. The goal of this style is to appeal to audiences by being friendly, informal and personal. Using perfect grammar, writing complex sentences with jargon and fancy words will alienate readers rather than win their trust. Writing simple sentences in and striving to say things in one word rather than two or three will achieve a more readable style.
But Not Too Informal
Although conversation style is about writing the way you would normally speak, Lethbridge College Learning Connections warns that you can't "forgo decorum" to achieve informality. The style should use a personal, genuine voice while still maintaining professionalism. Using slang and profanity does not make you sound "cool" -- in fact, it will likely offend some readers and make you appear less credible. Finding a balance between your unique conversational voice and conventions of professional writing will make readers trust you and be more receptive to your message.
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