“The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.” — George Orwell
If you’re an aspiring copywriter, then it’s generally safe to assume you at least have a working command of language and can assemble cohesive sentences. You probably also do a fine job of writing to describe or report something, which is a crucial talent to possess when assembling fundraising or sales letters.
If you’re really talented (and have a lot of writing experience), you may even be a writer who can sit down at a keyboard in the early morning and bang out stellar copy for three solid hours, break for lunch, and then bang out stellar copy for another three hours in the afternoon — and end the day with 5,000 or even 10,000 words of copy that barely need tweaking. If that’s you, congratulations! You’re among a small and special group of writers.
If that isn’t you, don’t worry! You’re in good company. Most of us need to revise and rewrite and revise again. We need to set our copy aside for a day or two and then come back to it with fresh eyes. We need to read it aloud, or better yet, have someone else read it aloud so we can listen for awkward passages, words, and spots that make the reader stumble.
In other words, we need a little help to generate impactful copy that gets results, and that’s what this post is all about. What we’re going to look at today are eight differences between writing for results and writing merely to describe or report on something. Successful writers use these techniques all the time — in moderation, of course — and you should be aware of them so you, too, can incorporate them into your work.
1) Colloquialisms — Writing for results demands that you use everyday language and patterns of speech because you need to communicate readily, without complication, and without forcing the reader to work for understanding. In many fundraising and sales letters, colloquial phrases such as “No way!” or “Guess again!” or “Here’s the thing…” underline the informality of the appeal and keep the verbiage conversational. The use of terms such as these is more than acceptable — it’s essential. Remember, a masterpiece of copywriting will read much more like a conversation at the supermarket than an article in the Harvard Business Review.
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