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Adapting Your Writing Style
Most freelance writers have a writing style that feels comfortable to them. When I’m writing my own stuff, I write like a Brit. That means flowing, run on sentences and a style that’s slightly wordier than the AP style. I write for a lot of British clients and that style works well for them. However, I also write for American clients and then I have to change my style. When writing for them, I have to keep sentences short and snappy — and keep it simple (that’s what an editor told me once). No phrases and clauses, either.
As a freelance writer, you have to be ready to alter your style when the job demands it. This is not only about grammatical style, but also about matching the writing to the subject matter. Academic writing is different from feature writing is different from web content writing and so on.
What I’ve found, though, is that you have to pay attention. I did two jobs for the same client. One of them was virtually perfect, lulling me into a false sense of security. The other one had a few extra clauses, which I am now ruthlessly excising.
There are three ways that you can adapt your writing to any circumstance:
First, know what your writing style is. If you can identify the things that make you you, then you can cut some of those out to make your writing more suitable for others.
Second, identify the style that the client likes. Sometimes they tell you exactly what they want, or give you examples of writing they like. Study these examples and mimic them, letting a small bit of your style creep in — just enough to make it different, but not enough to scare the client.
Third, pretend you are someone else. If you are a ghostwriter, then you are probably already doing this every day. As ghostwriters, our job is to write in our clients’ voice, whatever our own personal style.
I’d love to hear from you about your take on writing style.