Creative writing for translators: adding empathy to a text

Last week we looked at writing to a brief – how we can write in a particular way to influence how the reader thinks or feels. The way we do this is by adapting our tone of voice. In this week’s creative hour we will adapt the tone of voice of an existing piece of text. You could do this exercise with any kind of text in your specific mother tongue, but here is a brief to get you started:

Read this article about Chinese actress Angelababy published on the BBC website yesterday:

You might feel a lot of different things reading this article for the first time. I sort of swayed between feeling somewhat sympathetic for the actress (not because of her court case, but her husband’s bizarre comments to ‘defend her’) and feeling cynical about a world where people get a court-ordered prodding to prove their face is genuinely their face. Watching the YouTube video below is not required, but provides a bit of extra context:

Your particular brief today is to add empathy to the article. You want the reader to feel empathetic towards the actress, to sympathise with her story and her point of view. Your standpoint is that the actress is the victim in all this, she has been unjustly accused of having plastic surgery, when she clearly hasn’t. Don’t change the actual facts of the story. Before you get started, you might want to read this short article about the difference between being empathetic, sympathetic and sentimental.

Have fun writing! Want to share your musings with us? Feel free to send us your creations. We’ll pick the best ones and publish them on this blog post with a link to your translator profile.

Happy creative Friday afternoon!



Creative writing for translators: Writing a marketing text to a brief

We’ve received some wonderful feedback from our translator colleagues about our blog on creative writing for translators,  so we thought we would publish this week’s task so you can join us and try it out for yourself! This week, we will focus on writing to a brief.

What to do

Find a hotel somewhere close-by and go in for an afternoon coffee. Take a pen and paper.

The task

You have been contracted by the hotel to write a beautiful and informative short article about the hotel’s bar/lounge area that they want to promote to their customers. Write the article in your mother tongue.

Medium & word count

Your description will be published on the hotel’s website, and also in a printed welcome guide in the guest rooms. There is space for roughly 300 words.

Who are you talking to?

You are addressing visitors of the hotel’s website who are browsing the site before their stay, as well as hotel guests reading the welcome guide. You are addressing both business and leisure travellers (think about their motives for staying in this hotel and why they would benefit from visiting the bar/lounge).

What are you trying to achieve?

You want to draw the reader’s attention to this area of the hotel and encourage them to use it during their stay.

What are you saying? 

Describe your surroundings: the interior design (style, genre, chic, minimalist, etc), the atmosphere (mellow, professional, any music playing? etc), what can you do here, what’s the menu like, what can you see when you look out of the window?

What do you want the reader to think/feel?

You want to create a picture of the bar/lounge area in their mind through vivid and positive descriptions. You want your readers to think ‘That sounds nice’, ‘That’s worth a look’ or ‘I like the sound of the menu’.

How should you come across?

Positive and inviting without ‘selling’.

Why would they believe you?

You are writing from the hotel’s perspective. The text needs to feel honest and unpretentious so that the reader feels they can trust your judgement. You definitely don’t want to make things up or embellish the truth. Once they go and see the bar/lounge area for themselves, they don’t want to feel disappointed.

Have fun writing! Want to share your musings with us? Feel free to send us your creations. We’ll pick the best ones and publish them on this blog post with a link to your translator profile 🙂

Happy creative Friday afternoon!