Sunday, January 16, 2011

Trim the Nonessential - Break a Few Rules

I could not write good ad copy.  My technical writing was good, my articles and press releases were fine, but my ad copy was flat and lifeless.

Whenever I needed to put together an ad, my marketing team would identify the key message and I would draft copy to communicate that message...copy that was clear but boring. Then I would send my draft to a freelance writer and she would send back something stunning.  But she had only made the tiniest changes.

After a few months of this, I asked her how she did it and her answer was stunningly simple. She took my draft and trimmed out nonessential words to let the most important ones stand out.  Then she broke a few grammar rules to shorten the sentences and quicken the pace.  Left out the subject noun. Or began with a preposition.

I believe her advice is magic for any writer or editor.  It is also a metaphor for creativity or even life in general.  

What nonessential elements in your work hide the most important parts of your message?  

What nonessential tasks keep you from doing your real work?

What rules should you break to quicken your pace and give your work clarity?