There are a few ‘tricks of the trade’ that will enable you to quickly clean up your copy and make it snappier, fresher, more concise with better flow. Sound good?
Keep your sentences short and to the point. Keep your paragraphs short, creating a fair amount of white space in your document. White space makes your piece more approachable. Readers scan documents before reading and dense copy can cause them to put your copy aside for later – the kiss of marketing death. Some writers like to include two spaces between sentences. The two spaces have the same effect of adding more white space and making a piece easier on the eye.
Look for the word ‘that’. It can almost always be removed, as can the words surrounding it to create a tighter idea and a shorter sentence. Try reading sentences aloud and you’ll find a new perspective on what works, what you can cut and what should stay. Just eliminating use of ‘that’ will tighten up your writing nicely.
Be specific. When you use the word it, describe what ‘it’ is replacing and you’ll have more interesting copy that is easier to understand. Specificity brings clarity.
Use your verbs wisely. Verbs are the heartbeat of your sentence. They are, of course, where the action is. Use descriptive verbs that create images in the mind of your reader. Instead of saying he walked slowly down the street, say: he ambled down the street as if he had all the time in the world. Do you see the difference? What does each conjure in your minds’ eye?
Find a reliable writer to read your work and critique it. So often you’ll have the bones of a piece and it just isn’t flowing quite right. Your writing buddy can say: well, if you moved the top to the bottom and stopped telling the story after you include the personal part about…..and voila, you have a piece that’s near completion. Often you can’t see the obvious in something you’ve spent a lot of time on. Fresh eyes work wonders.
Finally, kill your darlings. We all come up with great turns of phrase every now and then and we keep them in a piece even though they aren’t necessary. I almost never write a piece where I don’t get ‘married’ to one or two great sentences. Very often, clever as they are – they need to go!
A good writing partner can help you cut those darlings out of your copy. Trust me; it can be very hard to do yourself.
Want to learn the techniques, tools and ‘tricks’ for writing great copy? Checkout out our upcoming courses including: the Thrill of Copy, Portfolio develop and our online classMastering Direct Response Copywriting.