How to bring your copy to life

There is no greater feeling than when a good book falls into your hands and you can’t put it down until you’ve finished it.

It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, there’s a special chemistry between you and the author.

You feel you have a lot in common.

The author lets you into the lives of her characters – or her own life – and when you finish the book you feel a kind of emptiness because you miss them.

You feel that the book was written for you, that some of the characters’ struggles have resonated with your own feelings.

Writing is a way of transferring enthusiasm, both in novels but also when we write copy.

Whether it’s an article for your blog or the copy for your website, your words should evoke feelings, they have to grab the reader tightly so she will continue reading.

If you want to learn how to write really well and make people want to read everything you write, you need to breathe life into your words.

You have to make time stand still and make the reader forget that she is in a hurry.

Contrary to what many people think, people still like to read.

Why do you think then there’s so much content on the internet and millions of books are still being published?

The truth is that people only read what interests them.

Here I’m going to show you some of the techniques great writers use to make their writing interesting and keep the reader engaged.

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Vivid language

I feel really sorry when I read blogs from people who have taken the time to write them – including statistics, quoting sources, using correct language – but they turn out to be soporific.

Even for those that are the target audience who are supposed to understand the technical words.

People don’t read them because they are drab, they don’t excite, and most importantly, they don’t get the reader involved.

To get people interested in your article you need to bring your words to life.

And how do you do that?

By describing real situations that serve as examples so the reader can picture the scene and easily get involved.

Here’s an example.

Years ago I decided to polish my creative writing skills by signing up for an online writing school based in Madrid.

I tried to follow the classes and read all the material they sent us before doing the exercises.

I quit after 2 months.

The texts they sent me bored me to tears.

They were flat, bland, and lacking in vivid language. I couldn’t engage with them even if I tried hard.

So I decided, as I’ve done so many times in my life, to learn to write better on my own by reading the best books on writing I could find.

One of them was Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

This book teaches you how to write by mixing the technical part with the author’s life experience.

It’s full of vivid moments that make you smile and get excited.

For example, the bird scene that stuck with me and gave the book its title.

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was 10 at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was sitting at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”

This scene stuck with me and it comes to my mind every time I get overwhelmed with some task. I think of the birds and I say to myself, come on Elena, bird by bird.

With this scene, Lamott manages to put us in the right mood and so we perfectly get the message she wants to convey.

We can almost feel her brother’s anguish since we have lived through similar moments in childhood.

To grab your audience’s attention, you should share concrete moments, so they’ll feel engaged and forget they’ve got an endless list of things to do.

This technique can also be useful when you write your company’s About section.

The Word Man is a British copywriter.

This guy is a storytelling wizard and tells you his story in a fun and original way that makes you want to read till the end, like going down on a slide.

This is how he starts:

“Adding extra to ordinary since 1988

Most six-year-olds in September 1988 were still playing with their own snot. Not me. I’d just put together a ten-game unbeaten Scrabble run against my dad, who’d only taught me how to play that very month. And the more we played, the more my vocabulary grew. ‘Bazookas’ across two triple word scores was my personal zenith. By junior school I was unstoppable. It wasn’t long before I was correcting teachers’ blackboard spelling and being the annoying kid who’d pull you up if you wrote their instead of there.”

Anyone could have said, “I’ve always been good at spelling since I was a kid,” but The Word Man tells an engaging story that makes you smile and forget that you’ve got some spaghetti cooking in the kitchen that’s about to get soggy.

Be crystal clear

In order for the people who have landed on your website to get hooked on your words, your writing needs to be transparent.

The reader shouldn’t have to spend any energy trying to figure out what you’re trying to say; all their energy should be focused on reading on to find out more.

One way to write clearly is to ask yourself if you would repeat the same sentence in a conversation.

Imagine you are at a dinner party and the person sitting next to you asks you what you do.

And you reply, “I use Cognitive Sophrology techniques with my clients.

Do you think they understood anything?

I don’t think so.

But if you say, “I help people who are going through a difficult time to turn their negative thoughts around and make the best of it,” they’ll have a better idea of what you do, and you won’t sound like a walking encyclopaedia.

Write as you speak.

Imagine a real person who has landed on your website and wants to know more about how you can help them solve a problem.

Anticipate the questions that will pop into their head at the points where they might be in doubt because you are talking about something more technical.

The same applies to your blog posts.

To make sure they are clear, ask yourself before you sit down to write, “What do I want this article to achieve?”

“I want the reader to have a better idea of how to write in a more engaging way.”

Being clear about your goal will help you with the structure and also with getting the message across.

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Rhythm is one of the most important factors in writing.

A text is like a melody, with its ups and downs, its faster and slower moments.

By changing the rhythm, you break the monotony of the text and make reading a pleasure, like listening to a great song.

An example of a text with excellent rhythm, which is also one of the most famous opening lines in the world of literature, is this:

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita. Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, an initial girl-child. In a princedom by the sea. Oh when? About as many years before Lolita was born as my age was that summer. You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style”.

Yes, it’s Lolita by Nabokov.

Note the combination of short sentences with some longer ones.

Also note the questions that he answers himself, a method also used by the Spanish writer Fernando Aramburu in his great novel Patria.

Rhythm is the colophon of your text. It will transform your post from just another post into one that is worth stopping and reading until the very last word.

Recommended Reading How to write in a clear and engaging way

Sobre Elena de Francisco

Siento un placer inmensurable aplastando textos zombis que no dan resultados y transformándolos en textos llenos de vida que provocan muchas ventas.

About Elena de Francisco

I find real pleasure in crushing zombie copy that doesn’t provoke any emotion and turning it into vivid words that convert prospects into smiley paying customers.


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