10 Tips to Help You Write Like a ProSeptember 26th 2013 Sally Ormond copywriting tips, how to write effectively, writing like a pro
This post originally appeared on our sister blog, Freelance Copywriter’s Blog.
A good piece of writing is one of those things that’s hard to define, but you know it when you see it.
Words that flow, sentences that are easy to follow, paragraphs that draw you in all help to create text that appears effortless to the reader. So how can you make your writing better?
Well, there’s always the good old-fashioned way of reading lots and lots of great writing and hoping some of it will rub off on you. Or you can keep reading and discover 10 tips that are easy to do and that will have a dramatic effect on your writing.
If you’re ready, let’s get started.
1. Same old, same old
Clichés, hackneyed phrases, commonplace words, whatever you want to call them, should be avoided at all costs (doh!).
If you want to stand out as a writer, take the time to think of a different way of expressing yourself rather than falling back on trite phrases such as ‘in this day and age’ etc.
Not a new subject to this blog, but one worth repeating over and over, the most effective way of writing is a conversational style. It’s how we’re used to communicating with each other.
It’s friendly, unpretentious and it gets to the point quickly.
Keep your language simple, your sentences simple and your message simple.
For some people, writing in the second person seems quite strange, but it’s the best way to engage with your readers.
You see it more commonly on blogs where the author is writing directly to his or her readers and recounting personal experiences, so the use of ‘you’ and ‘I’ is fairly wide spread.
So what’s stopping you from using them in your sales writing? You’re still writing to a person, you still want to engage with them, so you should be addressing them directly.
Everyone loves a good story – since childhood they’ve been part of our lives, so don’t stop using them now.
Just to clarify, that doesn’t mean start your brochures with ‘Once upon a time…’, that would just be daft. The story should be a case study or testimonial that shows how your product or service has helped a real person in real life.
5. Watch your grammar and spelling
An obvious one, but it still needs to be talked about.
Always check and double check your writing before publishing it. No one is expecting you to be a red-hot grammarian, but at least try and get the basics right.
The same goes for your spelling. Although your trusty spell checker will throw up blaring errors, it may not spot those occasions when you’ve used the wrong their or there. So always make sure you check your writing, or get someone else to, before publishing.
6. No flower power
That is what will happen to your writing if you over do the adjectives.
Adjectives are the ‘descriptive’ words that turn your writing into horrible flowery prose.
After writing your first draft, read through and cut out as many of the little suckers as you can. The end result will be leaner and far more powerful.
Yuk – a bit like the adjective, and adverb can kill your writing so chose your words carefully.
Why use a phrase like ‘ran quickly’ when ‘dashed’ has more effect?
Yes, I know I used one earlier, but surely I can be forgiven just one, can’t I?
Exclamations are great in reported speech and dialogue, but it’s unlikely you’ll be using either in your sales writing.
The words you use should be able to convey stresses without having to stick an ! at the end of them.
As you write you will have the tendency to add in all sorts of words that aren’t needed. Once you’ve completed your first draft, read through and cut out any words that don’t add meaning.
Tightening your message this way will increase its impact.
If you write about something without offering examples or backing up your arguments with evidence, your writing is going to come across as being hollow.
Make sure you add in statistics, quotes and other research data to support your points.
There you go, I’m sure there are many other tips to help you write like a pro, but these 10 are my favourites.
If you have any other tips leave a comment below and let’s see how many we can come up with.