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I've been asked to start writing letters for my boss. My boss will then send out these letters with her signature underneath them.

My boss has a particular writing style, and she wants me to write using her writing style. I've never imitated someone's writing style before. Does anyone here have any advice on how to do this?

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    Often, this kind of job is a lot less about sounding like the boss than about writing something she is comfortable signing. Ask her. – keshlam Nov 24 '16 at 0:07
  • You may want to ask this also on Writing. – a CVn Nov 24 '16 at 13:17
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Check her correspondence, and cut-and-paste from it. At least until you are confident that you get her writing style.

Create yourself a library of templates from her correspondence. Create yourself a listing of her favorite expressions.

If she asks you to write a specific letter to a party and you can't think of a template or an original letter that you can use, ask her if she can think of an original letter she wrote that you can use as a template.

If you are doing cut-and-paste, do it but don't admit to it :) How you make the sausage and from what ingredients is between you and the wall.

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    I'd upvote if it weren't for the "don't admit to it". Why is it necessary to lie about this? – sumelic Nov 23 '16 at 23:44
  • @sumelic - where the hell did I imply "lie"? I advised the OP not to admit i.e. "don't volunteer the information". If you don't get why it's not a good idea to admit that you did a task by cutting and pasting, then I can't do anything for you. Go ahead, admit to it and create the impression to your boss that you are a lazy bum - I don't care. And I can do without your upvote, too. – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 24 '16 at 1:08
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    To me the phrasing "don't admit" implies lying... I wouldn't use it to mean "don't volunteer". I guess that's just a difference in how we use these phrases, but it might confuse other people as well. Anyway, I consider lies by omission to also be lies. Also, if I thought my boss would consider me to be a "lazy bum" if she learned about this, I'm not sure I would do it. It seems risky, since she might find out even without me telling her. I'm not sure why she would consider it lazy though... it seems smart to me. – sumelic Nov 24 '16 at 1:18
  • @sumelic - I'll tell you a short story. I hate eating any animal's brains - too close to the eyes, I guess, and I hate eating anything whose eyes are vacantly staring at me. My late mom, as is her wont, experimented and cooked some delicious fried food - which she admitted to be sheep's brains as I ate the last of it. I almost gagged. Had she not admitted to it, I would not have been happy being ignorant. Yes, I gave the advice to cut-and-paste because it is the most direct way to get it done, but who knows - there is always someone who is pointy headed enough to object on principle. – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 24 '16 at 1:30
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    It is possible that some bosses would object to this course of action if asked, but would be happy with it if they didn't know. My concern in that case would be, what if the boss finds out some other way? That's not a risk I would want to take, but of course, different people are comfortable with different levels of risk. – sumelic Nov 24 '16 at 1:44
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Make a draft letter and ask for her opinion.

You are not in her mind, so you have no idea how to proceed yet. Start by reading some of her writings to get inspiration, then write a first draft. Review it by yourself, and ask yourself what words she would not have used and what you could improve.

Then you can show her your draft and ask for her opinion. Take careful notes of her remarks, and re-write the letter accordingly. The second version should be much closer to what she wants.

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    This is a bit of an "un-answer" since it doesn't address how you go about imitating some else's writing style, which was the main focus of OP's question. – DepressedDaniel Nov 23 '16 at 23:21
  • @DepressedDaniel - Thalantas did write "start by reading some of her witing to get inspiration, then write a first draft". That's a bit of answer, although he clearly failed to specify what the OP should be looking for in his reading of "some of her correspondence". His failure to specify probably makes his answer non-actionable, unlike Myles' answer, which I upvoted. I am not sure that Thalantas' recommendation is the most efficient way for the OP to produce the imitation correspondence either. – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 24 '16 at 1:21
  • +1 Seems like a good answer to me. Getting feedback from the boss, rather than the specifics of the letter crafting itself, is probably the key to this task. As Keshlam also notes in the comments "Often, this kind of job is a lot less about sounding like the boss than about writing something she is comfortable signing." – user45590 Nov 24 '16 at 10:54
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To imitate her writing style read as much of her writing as you can. Look for common turns of phrase or idioms that she uses, look for a pattern in first and last sentences of correspondence (problem statement, well wishing, summing up, etc), look at the number and length of paragraphs used, does she commonly use passive voice (starting the sentence with the object rather than the subject).

Someone copying my style for emails would see a common pattern of statement of problem - steps taken - request for action. Common phrase would be "as your schedule allows", "Let me know if there is anything I can do", and "Please advise". My emails will contain a lot of passive voice.

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Break things down

As with any challenging task, breaking things down into manageable pieces makes sense. It sounds as though your boss puts some effort into maintaining good relationships with her readers.

Look at the following aspects of her letters:

  • How they start and finish - The opening and closing of letters set the mood, reinforcing the relationship between writer and reader.
  • Tone - How is the language used? Is it business/professional, or is it open/informal in nature? Is it buzzword heavy or in plain language?
  • Structure - How long are the paragraphs and sentences inside them? How do sentences typically start (and are parentheses used a lot)? Use of contractions - e.g. or "for example"?
  • Aim - Letters are written for a reason. How does your boss get down to the point and either ask for what she wants, and how does she inform the user of key facts? How does she get what she wants out of the communication?

Analysing these aspects should help in building a decent facsimile of how she constructs letters herself.

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Read lots and lots of stuff she has written. Then try writing something up and ask her to critique it. After a few rounds of doing this, you should get better.

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