Over the last few years, I’ve noticed a shift in the way editorial content is written. Each article is presented in an identical tone. There’s no individualism in editorial content anymore.
No attitude. No personality. No originality. No challenge. No vibe.
Every article reads like an entry from Encyclopedia Brittanica. It’s an introduction, then some facts. A quote from someone. More facts. A quote from someone else. Another fact. Yet another quote. A neutral call to action. A conclusion. Turn the page. Lather, rinse, repeat.
I no longer read articles. I scan them, sigh, and flip through five more pages of ads to get on to the next. I don’t want to read bland, generic information. I want to relate. I want to feel like a real person wrote those words that I’m reading and that they actually wanted to write it.
Currently, every piece reads as if the same nameless, faceless person wrote it. This is odd because a lot of articles in our trade magazines are, essentially, opinion pieces. They’re technical opinions, but they’re still opinions. There is a ton of room to include some vibe in there. Inject some personality into it. Throw in a sassy comment or a unique comparison. Stop removing the vivid colors from a writer’s tone.
I want to be hooked in.
I want to hear an experienced person when I read an article, not a robot.
I want to hear a voice.
Every experienced reader can identify their favorite writer’s voice. You could give me ten paragraphs written by different authors and I will always be able to identify the one written by George R.R. Martin. He paints with words and communicates in a way that is so distinctive, you can’t mistake it for anyone else.
Stephen King also has a very distinct voice. King’s words are your worst parts of your humanity laid out on paper. They’re the horrid, infantile thoughts that come unbidden and the ferocious, feral impulses that strike you in a moment of rage and shame you. Writers like that speak to you when you read their words. It’s personal and profound. In King’s case, it can almost feel like a violation–but in a weird, good way. It’s why you reach for their books first when looking for something new to read. It’s what keeps you reading.
Our trade magazines don’t need to read like fine literature or Stephen King novels (see what I did there?). There just needs to be more passion and more personality. I don’t know if the writers are weak and just aren’t feeling what they’re writing about or if the editors are purposefully altering the pieces to sound as bland as stale cardboard, but the impersonal nature of the articles is boring.
Start challenging us. Give us something to think about and discuss other than rhinestones, gel polish, nail art, and social networking. Don’t be afraid to expose controversial topics. Grab your readers by the throat and confront them with content that forces them to use their brain-meat. Offend people. Challenge their assumptions. Engage them.
Quit killing the vibe. You’re hurting yourself by doing so.
Writers with voices attract strong, loyal readers. They communicate ideas and concepts that many would consider bland in compelling ways, utilizing their passion, humor, intelligence, and unique perspective. Jaime Schrabeck, PhD (Precision Nails) is one of those writers. Jaime is honest. Her content can be controversial, but she communicates her opinions intelligently, without apology, and can justify those opinions with solid logic. She writes about things that actually matter. (I’m sure nail art is important to a vast majority of your readership, but it’s hardly what I would consider substantial. This is me communicating my opinion without apology.) Jaime has a distinctive voice. When you read her content, you know it was written by a person that actually cared about what they were writing.
The absence of that passion in the editorial content out there today is disappointing. That unique personal perspective is vitally important. Bring it back.