How to Write Articles That Sell: Developing Your Writing Style

Updated on August 15, 2018
Austin Hackney profile image

Austin started freelance writing in 2007. Since 2010 he's made his living selling words to both print publications and online markets.

How to Develop a Writing Style That Sells
How to Develop a Writing Style That Sells | Source

The Question of Style

It's important to understand how to develop a writing style if you want a successful career as a freelance writer. Your style is the way you express ideas in writing. Your word choice and sentence structure both contribute to your personal writing style. A good writing style makes your articles more likely to sell.

Source

Good Writing Style is Invisible

The first aim of any writer should be clarity. Strive to make your writing easy to read. From the reader's perspective, your writing style should be invisible. It's always worth reading your work aloud or recording it and listening back. You're more likely to sell articles if your sentences flow in a logical manner, your vocabulary is tailored to your subject and readership, and your writing sounds attractive to the ear.

Source

Each Writer Has a Unique Style

No two writers have the same style. While I would encourage you to study the style of those writers you most admire, and whose work you enjoy, always avoid trying to imitate another author. Once the basic rules of clear writing and good grammar are second nature, you will develop your unique writing style.

Developing a writing style takes time. Different writers will "find their voice" at different speeds. For a few it will come fast and for most it may take weeks, months, or even years. You shouldn't become overanxious about style. But it’s worth bearing in mind as you progress. One of the most exciting things any editor can discover, and will be keen to buy, is a new voice with a fresh and original style.

As with all skills, style and voice can only develop with persistent practice. The key to success as a freelance writer is to keep writing and submitting work, listening to critiques, and striving to improve your writing. Your particular voice as a writer is not "discovered". It comes with hard work and time. Be patient as you learn how to develop a writing style of your own.

Source

The 5 Cs

While no-one can teach writing style, five distinct qualities distinguish good writing from bad. More leeway may exist when writing fiction, but as a freelance non-fiction writer or journalist, these five qualities are well worth the time you give to understand and practice them. They may be the difference between a rejection and a sale. In the trade they’re called “the 5 Cs”.

  • Correctness
  • Conciseness
  • Clarity
  • Coherence
  • Completeness

Let's take a look at each in turn.

Source

Correctness

Correctness applies both to the content of your work and the way you write. You must check your facts, use accurate description, and make sure your grammar is faultless. Many new writers disregard the principle of correctness, particularly in grammar, because they fear it will stifle their writing style. The opposite is true. Proper use of grammar and syntax provides the stable launch pad from which your creativity rocket may lift off toward the outer limits of what you can achieve.

Source

Conciseness

Conciseness is not synonymous with brevity. Many long-form articles upward of 5000 words may still be concise. When your writing is concise, it means that you keep clear focus on what you're trying to say and you say it in the simplest possible terms. Avoid irrelevant facts and repetition. Cut out every unnecessary word and phrase. Conciseness relates to the third quality of good writing style, clarity.

Source

Clarity

Clarity means that your writing should be unambiguous. Give your reader every detail necessary for them to understand your argument or the theme of your piece. Use language appropriate to your readership. Avoid the temptation to show off the range and extent of your vocabulary. Never use a complex word where a simpler one will do. A common error among aspiring writers is to overuse the dictionary and the thesaurus.

As Jorge Luis Borges has pointed out:

The first thing a young writer sets out to do is to show his readers that he possesses a dictionary.

Clarity means making sure you're not that writer.

The key to clear writing lies not only in your word choices, but in your thinking. The clearest possible idea of what you want to say, why, and how you mean to say it, is vital before you set pen to paper or fingers on the keyboard. I don't recommend "writing by the seat of your pants". Planning always produces more concise, clearer writing than not planning. Good planning is essential to the fourth quality of good style, coherence.

The first thing a young writer sets out to do is to show his readers that he possesses a dictionary.

— Jorge Luis Borges

Coherence

For your work to be coherent you must present ideas in a logical order. The well-worn adage that a piece of writing should have "a beginning, middle, and an end" refers to coherence. If you are writing an opinion piece, it's important to explain and defend your opinion in a series of arguments which your reader can follow without difficulty. When writing journalism, you must lay out the facts and your analysis of them in logical order. If writing an explanation piece, the same principles apply. Making sure your work is coherent will help your reader understand what you want to say. It will also support the last of the 5 Cs, completeness.

Source

Completeness

Completeness means you finish what you start. If your piece raises questions, you must answer them. If information is needed for your reader to understand your argument, you must offer it. But it also means sticking only to the necessary facts. Diversions and trivia can undermine the structural completeness of your writing and confuse the reader.

Source

How to Develop a Writing Style of Your Own

Learning how to develop a writing style is important. But many new writers worry far too much about it. Once you grasp what style is and set your mind to achieve it, your aim is best served by getting on with the business of writing. There is nothing mystical or obscure about writing style. Don't try too hard to achieve it. One of the greatest dangers facing any new writer learning how to develop a writing style is self-consciousness. Self-conscious writing is clumsy and stilted. Try to keep the 5 Cs in mind and let your writing style develop naturally.

The 5 Cs Revisited

5 Cs
What it means in a nutshell
Correctness
Accurate information and good grammar
Conciseness
Saying exactly what you mean
Clarity
Simple, unambiguous language
Coherence
Thoughts and arguments in logical order
Completeness
Give necessary information
Source

Learn to Write in Different Styles

Having understood and developed your own writing style it becomes easier to write with conviction in other styles and voices. As a freelance writer you will often produce work tailored to specific markets. Each publication has its own branded voice. Many websites, newspapers, journals, and magazines publish their own style guides. If you want to sell your work to them, you must study their guidelines and follow them. Learning how to tailor your writing to each market is an essential skill for a successful freelance career. The New York Times, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, Best, Bella, and The People's Friend all have very different editorial styles.

If you aim to sell articles, time spent studying a few recent editions of whichever publication you wish to write for will reward you with higher acceptance rates than hope and guesswork. Learn to be versatile in your writing, to manipulate words without sacrificing naturalness, and you will have a successful career as a freelance writer. Always strive to improve your writing. Read and absorb the elements of already successful authors’ styles. Never imitate, but allow your reading to influence your own writing while aiming to produce work whose style and voice is unique to you.

My Tips on How to Develop a Writing Style

Writing Style and Success

Once you’ve mastered your writing style, your individuality as a writer and your authorial identity will shine through even when writing according to guidelines. Your writing will become easier and more enjoyable to read. Above all, as your style develops, you will notice a significant increase in sales.

© 2017 Austin Hackney

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Austin Hackney profile imageAUTHOR

      Austin Hackney 

      15 months ago from ITALY

      Hi Rohit,

      Thank you for your kind comment. I'm glad you found the article helpful.

    • Rohit Verma9838 profile image

      Rohit Verma 

      15 months ago from Lucknow

      thank you so much for this amazing info,i am a beginner freelance writer and this would be more helpful for me.

    • Austin Hackney profile imageAUTHOR

      Austin Hackney 

      15 months ago from ITALY

      Hi Ismith131,

      Thank you for your kind comment. I'm glad you found the article useful.

    • lsmith131 profile image

      Lanecia Smith 

      15 months ago from Ohio

      Great Article!

      This is great information for beginner writers like myself who are trying to find their style and voice in writing. As a beginner I am always learning how to make my writing better. This article helps a lot. Thanks for the info!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, toughnickel.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://toughnickel.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)