Writers. We want to say it all and we want everyone to read it. The problem is not everyone will always understand our copy if we wrote with our artistic skills locked and loaded. Now, if we’re writing in the traditional textbook inverted pyramid style, offering the who, what, when, why and where, then it’s pretty straightforward. The facts are stated upfront and we’ve got good content.
Here’s where it gets tricky. Most writers don’t want to write just to convey the facts so bluntly. That gets boring over a period of time. Reading any copy that gives the facts up front can dehumanize a story and become a mechanically routine way of receiving and processing information. This kind of content doesn’t really challenge the reader to think. The beginning, middle and conclusion are being spoon-fed to the reader without them having to chew!
The Art of Writing: Trimming the Fat
Writers write because we want to give our audience something to chew on—but that’s not always needed, especially in the digital world of copy content. People don’t want to chew the fat, they want it trimmed away!
As a copywriter, that’s exactly what you’re going to have to do. Check your ego at the door along with your literary certificates, degrees and accolades! A copywriter is a newspaper reporter on steroids! To be a copywriter means going back to the basics!
Remember when they told you that the newspaper industry is dying? They lied. The newspaper industry EVOLVED. It integrated with the advancement of communication technology and re-introduced itself as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Writing. The term is too long so we just resort to “copywriter” or content writer. Whatever you choose to call it—if this is your role, then it’s time to unlearn every literary acrobat trick and just write the facts!
Here’s What I’m Talking About
The objective here is to get the attention of your reading audience and keep it. Content readers are not all leisure readers. Not everyone reads for pure entertainment. Some of them don’t even like to read! These kind of people are looking for insight whether it’s informative or authoritative. As a copywriter, you better give it to them or they’re going to go somewhere else to get it in just one click!
The Inverted Pyramid. Still Relevant.
The Inverted Pyramid is an upside-down triangle that represents the structural model for hard news stories that is most common in the newspaper industry. Here, the base of the triangle is considered the conclusion while the mid-part represents the supporting details, and the tip conveys background information. So it’s almost like starting the beginning of your story by telling the end first. Great for news reporters, boring for literary writers!
Going Back to the Basics
That’s why you just have to go back to the basics and implement what you learned in Journalism 101. Give the people what they want. By doing this, you are more likely to keep their attention. The whole Inverted Pyramid style of giving up all your information could be looked at as “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free” thing, but if the milk is good enough, they’ll want the cow!
Writing for the Digital Audience
In the fast paced world of digital information, the quicker you can respond to a browser’s needs, the quicker you’ll be in capturing their undivided attention. In this digital age, you’ll have about five seconds to pitch your product or idea before they decide whether or not they want to engage. So starting your copy off with ‘fluff’ aint gonna cut it!
I know, I know, they taught you to change your style of writing, make it interesting, make it pop, don’t write the way everyone else is writing—be different, creative—grab their attention!
Yeah, well there’s a fine line between doing that and actually getting and keeping a reader’s attention.
Again, you have to keep in mind that not everyone is in love with the written word like you, so when you start having fun with composing the content at the tip of the pyramid—the ‘fluff’ that you may feel is a literary work of art, be sure to just push that down toward the bottom of your copy and insert the factual details at the top.
Fluff? Yes, in the world of copy content, your storytelling skills are looked at as fluff. Don’t take it as an insult; it’s just the stuff that most people don’t necessarily want to read! Everything has it’s place and while fluff is welcomed in some Masters programs and literary publications like Poets & Writers, this kind of writing is more appreciated as a filler for copy content. Not to say that what you’re writing isn’t valuable—it’s informative stuff! It’s just that when you’re shoulder to shoulder with thousands of competitors, you’re going to need to grab a browser’s attention with exactly what they’re looking for and you can’t do that with fluff.
The Art of Combining the Facts and the Fluff
So as a professional writer putting out content, you don’t have feel confined to writing boring content for the rest of your writing career. You’re an artist. Figuring out a way to word things more interestingly is your job. And just because they declared newspapers as a relic doesn’t mean that the style of writing associated with it is now obsolete. When something works, it just does!
Conclusion or Beginning?
Think of it this way, Internet browsers have a short attention span. Some might be scanning with a purpose, looking for a specific piece of content. With casual browsers, anything can catch their eye—title, descriptions, the first paragraph, and even visual content. This is something to keep in mind when composing your next copy.
It if helps, start writing your fluff and be as creative as you want, but when it’s time to refine your copy, be sure to add the facts to the very beginning. Next, add the supporting information to those facts. In short, start the beginning of your copy with your conclusion, and you’ll have a well-crafted piece of content that gets straight to the point, showing off your reporting and literary talent.
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