Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Rhythm in Writing

Most of my writing is not meant to be read aloud. 

But I do. 

I call it: aural editing.

Hearing my writing helps me check rhythm, flow, and if the reader will accept the words as part of a conversation they're having with the brand. 

Rhythm reduces friction for your readers. 

It lowers their effort in consuming your words and accepting your message. 

It can mean the difference between your target audience continuing to read or getting tripped up (or worse, bored) to a full stop.

Writing content and copy with good rhythm and flow starts with the nuts and bolts, such as:
  • sentence length
  • word syllables
  • punctuation placement

Gary Provost famously wrote:

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It's like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety.

Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. the writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of a medium length. And sometimes when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals – sounds that say listen to this, it is important.

So write with a combination of short, medium, and long sentences. Create a sound that pleases the reader's ear. Don't just write words. Write music.  

So, consider reading your content and copy out loud. 

Or have someone else read it it, preferably cold (their first read of the material). 

Listen for the rhythm. 

Or lack of it. Identify tripping points.

Write this on a note and stick it where you'll see it:

Aural Editing Makes It Better

PS If you want to check out masters of rhythm in writing, read Shel Silverstein, Jack Kerouac, Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway, or Dr. Suess.

PPS In my opinion, current copywriters who deftly apply rhythm when writing copy include Andrew JoliffeCole SchaferHenneke DuistermaatEddie Shleyner, and George Tannenbaum

Thursday, September 24, 2020

The Worst Halloween Treat

It shows up every fall.

Candy corn.

My wife loves the foul stuff.

Me? Not so much.

But I could write a helluva good ad for it.

or promo. or email. or social media post. or video script. or web page.

Why they like it and why they should buy it.

I'm a copywriter, and that's what copywriters do.

We don’t necessarily have to like a product or a service, we just have to tap into the target audience and understand why they want or need it.

What problem does it solve? What joy does it bring?

That being said, this week I turned down a nice piece of business because I was not morally comfortable with the product. I think I could've written a helluva good ad for it.

or promo. or email. or social media post. or video script. or web page

But I won’t.

Wish the offer had come from a manufacturer of candy corn.

The Parking Spot Next to the Front Door

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