To say something both well and succinctly takes practice and skill. Your readers have a slue of information at their fingertips and will quickly move on to the next article if you don’t get to the point and deliver copy that’s worth reading.
In 1982, David Ogilvy, widely known as “The Father of Advertising” wrote an internal memo to his employees stating:
“Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well.”
Here are my favorite simple tips to writing better copy:
1. Write in a strong voice
Choose strong, action verbs, eliminate unnecessary adverbs, and avoid the passive voice.
You could say, “The cars were flattened into pieces when the Hulk threw them roughly on the ground,” but instead writers Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would simply write, “Hulk smash!”
Two words tell that story better than 15. Make your point with a punch and your readers will come back for more.
2. Say just enough to make your point
The active voice strengthens your sentences and eliminates unnecessary words. “The house was painted by Bob” becomes “Bob painted the house.”
Don’t waste your readers’ time with wordy, long-winded articles. Remove the unnecessary and the remaining bits will shine.
3. Write the way you talk
Your content should tell a story and flow naturally.
After writing your copy, read your piece out loud and ask yourself – is this really how I would say this in conversation?
Forcing yourself to enunciate every syllable and verb will not only help you identify the unnecessary, you’ll also trip over the awkward.
4. Take your time
Time gives a writer perspective. Mr. Ogilvy advises that you never send a letter or memo the day you write it .
That extra time between writing and editing gives you the distance you’ll need to chop and slice your copy and let go of the emotions attached to a particular sentence or phrase.
When you leave something and come back to it, if it still sounds good, you likely wrote it well.
5. Ask for help
A second set of eyes often provides clarity and perspective you might otherwise miss. Not sure if you’ve made your point or if an idea is important? Ask a colleague to take a look.