Shiny writing


April 9, 2014

All brands demand a different tone of voice, but how do we avoid clichés and becoming dull. We want conversational; we want interesting, how can I get this into my writing style

Here are 3 steps that can help make our written words that much more interesting, and consequently, engaging and useful to our clients.

Get rid of that achingly dull corporate voice

Nobody wants to talk with an automated machine. Nobody in interested in a large faceless corporation. Nobody ‘shoots the breeze’ with a call centre menu.

Brands need to stop trying to bore their customers into submission. There are a few things to watch out for; overly long sentences; big long, complicated words. These types of pieces of copy just tire the reader out, they become weary and turn off.

The first rule of advertising is cutting through the noise, brands need to get the message across quickly.

Someone very smart, possibly dressed in tweed, and definitely wearing thick glasses, has suggested a sentence should contain no more than 14 words.

A large vocabulary is good, because it helps you choose the right words to express your ideas. But don’t use a difficult word if a simple word works. It makes you look no smarter.

Make your text engaging

When I was growing up I used to be a big fan of (admittedly crude in those days) audiobooks. I loved the feeling of having a story told by someone with an interesting and engaging voice. (Richard Briers was always a favourite!)

This stayed with me as I got older, so I frequently find myself reading a book/Kindle/website and imagine the author reading it to me. (and yes I am aware audiobooks exist and are widely available, but it’s a bit weird listening to one in the toilet)

Conversational writing is different from normal writing, it is cleverly-written to be tailored to the reader – the reader who you might expect to be reading this book/article. It is simple and more conversational – hence the name – almost written as if having a conversation.

Use sensory and emotional words, as opposed to cliches

How many times have we been exposed to phrases such as a breakthrough innovation from a world-class leader in customer service solutions?

Yadda yadda ya…

Many words are so overused that they’ve lost their meaning. They just take up space. They’re filler words, visual blah blah blah. Dubai is great for these, you can’t move for ‘luxury’ or ‘opulence’ and the king of these words ‘iconic’ structures.

Our job as a (wannabe) writer is to touch our readers. Tickle them with our words. Dazzle them with your writing.

Content can only become riveting when your words sketch scenes so vivid that your reader pictures, experiences, and feels your words.

Sensory words make your content more powerful and memorable because they help readers experience your thoughts

Those same tweed-clad chaps have created research that suggests when you read a textural word — like smooth or rough, slimy or gritty — your brain activates the areas related to touch. The same is true for words that appeal to the other senses, which activate more brain processing power than non-sensory words.

Emotional words can have a similar effect. They make your reader feel something. When you make your readers feel fear, delight, or sadness, they’ll remember your words.

Here are a couple of things to consider to make your writing more vibrant and energetic by choosing the right words:

1. Replace bland words with sensory or emotional words. Instead of bad, use rough, stale, or stinky.

2. Use a thesaurus for inspiration.

3. Pick the word with the right connotation.

4. Choose a specific rather than a generic word.

5. Limit yourself to a maximum of one adjective before a noun. Don’t talk about a warm, sunny, humid day. Instead, choose the word that describes the day most accurately, for instance: a sticky day.

6. Delete as many adverbs as you can. Avoid meaningless words like just, really, and actually.

We need to help encourage and guide our clients content using some of these rules; help them move away from becoming stale and stinky and become shiny and interesting!

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