In your writing, focus on the ‘you,’ not the ‘I’

Writers can engage or alienate readers through the voice they use to discuss a given topic. Try this approach for offering guidance, insights and even professional anecdotes.

Writing less about yourself

You probably already know this—but they don’t.

Intrigued? Feeling good? Want to read on, see how enlightened you are?

Of course you do.

That’s the power of addressing readers in the second person: you.

Readers are a self-interested lot, that’s why as a writer you must key on the WIIFM factor (“What’s in it for me?”) from the reader’s vantage point.

That last sentence, not incidentally, shows the value in using a third-person reference (they, or in this case, readers) when offering an even slightly unflattering observation. Consider the difference between that above sentence and “You readers are a self-interested lot…”

The latter is off-putting, wouldn’t you agree? (You’re back on board now, having been included in the agreement. Cozy, isn’t it?)

Why angle your writing?

This is not about manipulating readers but rather engaging them by shining the light on them.

Notice that not once—until this sentence—have I used the first person: I. That’s purposeful.

A writer needn’t, and perhaps shouldn’t, focus on himself or herself. The byline is there for identification; let it convey that you are rendering your own viewpoint or experience.

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