Which to use, professional or colloquial language, when writing in the publishing industry?

This topic has been of great importance in our house for many years now. My sister, who comes from a primarily sciences background, feels that when writing, no matter who you’re writing too, you should always use professional language. I, on the other hand, feel like being in the publishing industry allows writers to use a colloquial writing voice.

For example, when you write or read a review, would you prefer to hear a very clinical review of the book, or would you rather hear somebody’s truly impassioned, but more informal, opinion of the book? Personally, I find that impassioned reviews tend to be  more indicative of how good a book is. If a book is good enough to make someone want to rant for 5 1/2 pages, then chances are it’s either really polarizing, or it’s one hell of a good book. On the other hand, I understand why my sister would feel that any sort of professional work requires a level of seriousness and objectivity. Both styles communicate the same information, but the intensity in which the information is communicated is very different.

Professional writing has its place. I would never send off a cover letter for an internship or job written in the same way as I do on my blog. However, I think that when you need your personality portrayed to others, it is more effective to use a colloquial style. I also think that the style you choose also depends on the subject matter you’re writing about. For example, if I was writing a paper on how cells divide, I wouldn’t really need to use a colloquial style, because it’s a fact, cells only divide in such and such fashion. However, if I want to talk about my opinion of the book, I have to start using words like I, myself, for me, and other words or phrases that personalize the reading experience to me, because I am not exactly like the next reader, therefore I might have different opinions.

Even from the readers point of view, reading a book that’s full of stilted professional language makes the content feel even more dry than it is. That’s why a lot of people don’t spend their free time reading the New England Journal of Medicine, unless they have to do so for work (or are total science geeks :D). I would rather pick up a copy of Gena Showalter’s book, and have people talk like they do every day.

At the end of the day, this is just another example on how different personalities prefer different styles. That’s why one person has never honestly stated that they like all books written by all authors. Authors portray their personality into the books they write. They have a type of book that they like to write (e.g. Urban fantasy, young adult, etc.), or they have that certain types of characters that they like to repeat. Mary Calmes, is an excellent example of this. She really likes the alpha male character who is in a position of power. She did it once with the Change of Heart series, with Logan being the semel (tribe leader) who has this power over other tribe members, and who has the power to do  the partial shift, which none other than his equal can do (a reah by the name of Jin). She also did it again in the A Matter of Time series, where Sam is a law enforcement officer (ending up being Supervisory Deputy Marshall Sam Cage), and comes from a household where his father is the alpha male that makes all the final decisions. That’s why when readers like Mary Calmes’ stories, they can pick up any one of her books and just enjoy it. You find so many reviews on Goodreads that say, “I love all of Mary Calmes’ books and this one didn’t disappoint”, because her type of writing style appeals to a particular reader personality.


 Which writing style do you prefer? Which do you use in your line of work? Which style do you think is best when in the publishing industry?