Readers can sense whether a writer has an obsession or passion about a subject. Do not make them feel uncomfortable with too many emphatic directives.
Publish 13 February 2021
A Reason To Write
You should have a good reason for writing. Perhaps the subject is one you are passionate about. You may feel that the material will benefit readers. But there is a fine line between passion and obsession. For example, you can develop a fondness for someone or even fall in love. A stalker claims such feelings but the manner of expressing it is atypical.
Tone it Down
Readers can sense whether a writer has an obsession or passion about a subject. One clue is the article length in relation to importance. A 3000-word article on why you should eat strawberries is difficult to swallow.
Too many repetitive commands or directives also appear obsessive. How many times do you begin sentences with, “You must…” or “It is imperative that you…” or “I must stress that you need to…”? In this way, you are ordering the reader to comply. By the second or third time an individual reads ultimatums like this, it becomes uncomfortable.
You may have valuable information to share. But keep in mind that readers are more comfortable coming to their own conclusions. Present the advantages of a particular action. Then ask what seems like the wise course; indicate the path data shows the majority take or make a suggestion with a nudge like, “You might consider…”
Alternatives to “You must” or “Need to” or “You can”
- The majority will
- A common course
- For a good outcome
- You may
- A useful direction is
- Many people will
- You might
- Consider doing this
- You will enjoy results if
- Continue making progress by
The other extreme is the overuse of, “you can” or “maybe.” These directives are less forceful but reading them a half dozen times within 500 words dilutes the importance of your message. Just as you can, you might not. Most often, indicating the proper course without an emphatic directive is sufficient. Just say what needs to be done. It is something the reader expects with a proper foundation.
A life threatening medical emergency justifies an emphatic statement. Pair a call to action with a benefit. Use balance in how you phrase a variety of directives. Your readers will not feel they are being ordered to adopt your thinking. Maintain your passion without crossing the line to an obsession. Your readers will love reading what you write.
Main image by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels.
UPDATED: AUG 3, 2023