Huffpost Books
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Arielle Ford Headshot

Is Social Networking Changing How We Write?

Posted: Updated:

Social networking emphasizes concepts such as community and engagement. As a result, it has changed what we share with our audiences. No longer is an author an unapproachable figure. Now he/she shares personal stories, events and referrals live for all to see.

Twenty years ago you would not have expected to see a best-selling author post pictures of her family reunion or provide details of how her computer crashed. These posts make her real. They make her just like us. We relate to her and we also feel a sense of ownership in her success when we follow, support and purchase her products.

So how has it affected our writing? In a tele-class I did with Linda Sivertsen she expanded on this phenomenon and its effects on our writing style. She shares her insights with us below.

"Twitter, Facebook, blogging, and even USA Today have all had an impact on how readers prefer to get their information. These short, punchy, concentrated messages are changing the way we think. As writers, we've unconsciously and even consciously changed the feel of how we communicate. As an editor, I am glad the focus is on less is more.

I advise clients to write in shorter sentences, and to use more contractions. Mix it up. If you're crafting a sentence of longer than 20 words, know your readers might find it hard to read. That doesn't mean you can't write a well-scripted sentence in 20 words, because you can. But break them up with shorter ones that are easier to follow.

The community appeal of social networking has produced another by-product: an increased demand for humor. As we become less formal in the way we communicate, so too should our writing style. I encourage clients to infuse humor into their content--even for the serious stuff. Sharing your quick wit or sarcasm with your readers is a powerful way to communicate in a more digestible way while creating solid brand loyalty.

I tell all my clients--read Martha Beck! Her comic timing, evidenced in her monthly O column or bestselling books, is masterful. In a recent article she wrote for Oprah.com, Martha took the topic of mastering technology -- easily a dry subject--and made it goofily fun. She writes, "At this point, I should mention I have the computer skills of a hamster. So in 2006, I asked a computer scientist client to teach me to build a Web site. During the following months, my brain felt like a raisin on fire as I tried to fathom HTML, JavaScript, encryption software, and so on. It was like learning Swahili... In Turkish."

Can you relate? That's the kind of casual, playful speak I find working for today's biggest writers. We smile. We feel we know them inside and out. Thus, we'll follow them anywhere.

Thank you, Linda for sharing your observations with us. Authors, keep it short and make it funny. There are so many mediums available to your readers, you need to make the most of the time they choose to spend with you.

Linda Sivertsen is an award-winning author and ghostwriter, whose 6- & 7-figure book deals have been covered in the national media and hit the New York Times list. Linda Sivertsen teaches weekly Book Proposal Tel-ecourses and writing retreats in Carmel, Los Angeles, and Breckenridge. To sign up for her weekly publishing newsletter (Pub Tip Tuesdays) or her next Book Proposal Tele-seminar or retreat, click here www.WinningBookProposals.com/teleseminars

Arielle Ford has launched the careers of many NY Times bestselling authors including Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Neale Donald Walsch & Debbie Ford. She is a former book publicist, literary agent and the author of seven books. To learn how to get started writing a book please visit: www.HowToWriteMyBook.com