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: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-34536268

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!