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How to Write More Effective Copy

Golden Lane (Zlatá ulička), Prague, Czechia, June 12, 2017 264

In my copywriting coaching program, the very first lesson I encourage all my students to do is one entitled "Persuasion Architecture". This lesson explains how, just like any other type of writing, a sales letter must have a STRUCTURE.

In fact, I would require my students to study famous direct marketing pieces and determine what "persuasion architecture" the copywriter follows. This gives the students practice through this 'reverse-engineering' process to appreciate that beyond the words and sentences there must be a certain flow, plan, map, or whatever other name you want to use, to great copywriting.

I've only recently completed a Masters Degree program and one of the courses I had to take was 'Research Methods'. Apart from teaching you how to carry our academic research, it also has a heavy writing component. The text used for the class for the writing component of the course basically covered things I already knew from copywriting but with an academic twist.

In fact, I got an "excellent" for my writing but the paper mechanics (formatting) was a little lacking. (I just hate all those footnote, bibliography, etc, 'rules' that go with academic writing.

For example, if you are writing a paper based on a deductive argument then you must start with a thesis statement and "tell the readers what you are going to tell them, then introduce the general topic, narrow your claim, followed by support arguments and after "telling them what you told them" you conclude with the claims of the thesis statement and its implications.

In other words, there is a pattern you must follow to make the paper logically connected and lucid. You readers are prepared for what you are about to explain and after you have explained this, summarizing what your paper is about.

As a copywriter, you must also think about the structure you are going to use for your letter BEFORE you even start writing. This would be your plan from which you will build your literary house made up of words, sentences paragraphs and sections.

One of the most common mistakes I see rookie copywriters make is that they concentrate so much on the "power words" and "sounding like a copywriter" that the flow of the letter suffers. The main reasons for this lack of flow arise because:

* The headline does not logically connect with the opening paragraph but addresses two different ideas

* The topic sentence of each paragraph is not logically supported by the following 'body' sentences.

* The "transitions" from one paragraph to another is almost ignored so there is an awkward disconnect.

* The right information is given in the wrong places such as the 'call to action' given before the list of benefits. (Think AIDA.)

* Too much real-estate is given to a minor selling point.

In order to maintain the "slippery slide" in my letters I always try and write my letters in one sitting. This may sometimes mean writing for 12 hours straight but while I'm writing the last sentence I still have the first sentence in my head. If I do break off from writing I'll have to start reading from the very beginning to make sure that I have the letter letter in mind. Interestingly, one of the great techniques used by article writers and which can work in sales letter writing is to bring the article full circle by ending on the same idea, story, or issue that you started with.

Now, it would not always be possible to write a long sales letter in one sitting, but in the planning process (just like you 'outline' an essay) you can ensure that the letter will flow smoothly from beginning to end. A disorganized sales letter is a major hindrance to persuasion. It is often said that you sell the sizzle but not the steak but even the sizzle must have some rhythm and cadence to it.

When I first started writing my own sales letters for the internet I took a letter written by a top copywriter and studied the patterns he used and did the same for my letter. Do this work? Like gangbusters. No, I was not a "swipe" because the products were different and you will never be able to recognize this as a "swipe" because I borrowed only the "plot" of his letter.

Speaking of plots, (which is another word for the 'plan of the story') just the other day I was telling my kids that the best plots are used over and over again with different story and its no accident the top movies and stories use common plots.

So study those famous pieces in your swipe-file and determine the plan or structure the writer used and borrow those 'persuasion architecture' to build YOUR own persuasion masterpieces.

18 Types of Metaphors

MONTPARNASSE CEMETERY 9-21-2014 4-42-21 AM

The first extremely obvious question is – What is this darned metaphor? Another fancy name? Well… yes and no. It is fancy, but also effective. Charged with energy. Stuffed with genius. By definition, a metaphor is a figure of speech where two entirely dissimilar words or phrases are brought together to suggest a similarity. Confused? What are examples for?

All the world’s a stage

Yes, it’s Shakespeare and he is comparing the world to a stage. You generally don’t see the world as a stage, you see it… as the world, the earth, the mother; but not a stage. That is why it’s a metaphor. Because it has brought together two entirely unrelated things and made sense with it.

That was simple. But there is no peace, here starts the rollercoaster. (bet you won’t enjoy it right now)

1. Extended or telescoping metaphor or conceit

When your metaphoric insight has developed, then you cannot restrain yourself to just one metaphor. Like –

All the world’s a stage and men and women merely players.

This extension – “Men and women are merely players” has made this an extended metaphor. The author stretched “the world” and “a stage” by introducing parts of “the world” (men and women) and “a stage” (players). Of course, it has to make sense. You can’t extend it by comparing men and women to an ipod. Sounds distasteful? Exactly.

2. Metonym

When you’ve grown tired of clichéd words and are searching desperately for a word closely related to it that has not been used to death, that word is a metonym. A new word to replace an old one. Of course, an example. The pen is mightier than the sword. This saying in itself has become clichéd, but originally the thought was otherwise. Here, the pen stands for the freedom of expression and the sword for the power of authority. Now, if you said, freedom is greater than power, nobody would have said Wow. That’s why Pen and Sword instead of freedom and power.

3. Mixed metaphor

Some of us fail to create a good metaphor; such a twisted, out of tune metaphor is called a mixed metaphor.

The waves of emotion have punctured my heart.

Can waves puncture? They do in a nonsensical world, but most of us are still sane, but widely tolerable of nonsense and that is why such nonsense is given a modest name of mixed metaphor.

OK, for info’s sake – there are two kinds of mixed metaphors: permissible mixed metaphors and impermissible mixed metaphors. Never use impermissible ones, so that leaves me to explain only permissible ones.

Permissible mixed metaphors make sense even though the parts are not directly related.

We’ve weathered plenty of storms with an iron will.

There is no connection between weathering the storms and an iron will, still it sounds right.

4. Absolute metaphor

A perfect metaphor to show craziness and confusion. In an Absolute metaphor, the metaphor actually, really, truthfully, doesn’t make sense.

She broke upon a sad piece.

In today’s world of indistinctness, it is reigning absolute. Confuse them with your confusion.

There are two types of Absolute metaphor: Paralogical and antimetaphor.

5. Implied metaphor

Implied metaphor is an indirect metaphor where an implication to the whole is made.

Shut your trap.

He ruffled his feathers.

No bird and no mouth, just feathers and trap. Yeah, that’s implied.

6. Dead metaphor

Dead metaphors have been so overused that they have lost their individuality.

Face of the mountains

Crown of glory

Dead metaphors are mostly used as phrases and not as metaphors. Their association has died. Now, they are just phrases, although their names still remain. Take off your hats. It’s mourning time!

7. Dormant metaphor

Didn’t our teachers say that eating words in not good. Here it is again. When the meaning of a metaphor becomes unclear because the sentence has been shortened, then it is called a dormant metaphor.

He was blazing. (for whaat, if you please)

She flew towards her uncle. (why?)

They blew her off. (WHY?)

OK, it makes sense, but in itself, they don’t create the whole picture. Why chew words. Dormant, yes, they are sleeping. Hibernating. But still alive.

8. Synecdoche metaphor

The name looks scary, but it’s rather simple. In synecdoche metaphor, a part of the association is used instead of the object. For example feathers instead of bird or claws instead of crab. These associations are symbolic of the whole.

Her feet flapped like terrified wings.

9. Root metaphor

Root metaphors are named thus because from them numerous other metaphors can take birth. Also, they are generalizations like –

Time is money.

Make hay while the sun shines.

Etc etc.

10. Active metaphor

Active metaphors are new born so you will have to introduce them to the world. They are not familiar to the reader. That’s why it is better if they are explained clearly.

Her blinking love.

They mashed each other’s lives.

Any new metaphor that hasn’t been written before is an active metaphor.

11. Submerged metaphor

In a submerged metaphor, the first part of the metaphor or the vehicle is implied. For example: his winged dreams or her legged ambition.

12. Dying metaphor

It should have been named ‘rising from the dead metaphor’ or ‘the mummy metaphor’ because when you take out dead metaphors from the grave and use them in your writing, then they can’t be called dying. I don’t know what George Orwell was thinking when he coined the name. J Dying metaphors are clichéd metaphors like

Needle in a haystack

Achilles heel

A different ball game

13. Conceptual metaphor

This is hard, so read slowly. A conceptual metaphor has many metaphoric meanings in them. Their underlying meaning creates a novel thought or a universal concept. Life as journey is an old conceptual metaphor. This metaphor has universal appeal. It is not talking about a particular situation or a person. It stands true to every man.

Also, if you see life as a journey, then you can also use many other metaphors like

My life has just halted

I have reached crossroads.

I came into this world with no luggage.

So, Life is a journey is a conceptual metaphor.

14. Pataphor

Pataphors are metaphors that are stretched to such an extreme that they do not make sense. They are usually used to attract attention and introduce newness.

He put breaks on his fear, accelerated his anger and rammed into the house.

15. Simple or Tight metaphor

In simple metaphor, you don’t need to do much. Just cool it. There is nothing to cool except just it. On a serious note, in a simple metaphor, the relationship between the vehicle (cool) and the tenor (it) is very intimate (tight).

Duck (bow) down.

He is mad (crazy).

You’re a dinosaur (huge).

Usually, simple metaphors are very short. Just two or three words at most.

16. Implicit metaphor

Here, either the vehicle or the tenor is not specified clearly, but implied.

Shut your trap.

Watch your tongue.

Here, ‘trap’ and ‘tongue’ are used instead of mouth and words.

17. Compound or Loose metaphor

A compound metaphor is made of more than one similarity. In it, the writer extends a metaphor by using more than one association.

He ran towards the murderer, a wild beast with a beating heart.

The air smelt of fear, the fear of abandonment.

18. Complex metaphor

In a complex metaphor, you have a simple metaphor and his accomplice (not in crime). Instead of an explanation, an example would do better.

Let me throw some light on his character.

Here, “throw” is used for “light” that in itself is non-existent.

What Makes a Writer a Writer?

Meet The Real Dawn French - Photo a Day Project

An interesting discussion on LinkedIn is swirling around the topic of when a writer can call themselves a writer .. As I've watched the discussion unfold, some interesting ideas have cropped up. They are worth considering.

A writer is someone who has been published offline.

Considering that a large segment of the writing work available is almost exclusively online today, this definition just can not hold true. While it is almost guaranteed that someone who has broken into hard print is a very good writer, it does not preclude someone who has never had their work published in traditional media from being considered a writer.

A writer is someone who knows their grammar, punctuation rules and how to spell things correctly.

I'm not prepared to say this is true because I know that publishers, magazines and newspapers all hire copy editors for one very good reason. Not every writer on the team has good spelling skills. No writer's punctuation skills are perfect. And everyone has certain words they almost always type incorrectly. I've been a copy editor. It's always easier to see others mistakes.

For me, I have to watch dropping the "r" on your, adding a "d" in college and several other persistent misspellings. There are words I consistently add extra letters to and others I drop letters from almost every time I type them. And most of the time, they are words, so spell check does not catch them.

At the same time, if a writer can not tell the difference between when to use your and you're or its and it's, it will be an obstacle to achieving a higher pays scale. Excellence in every aspect of writing is essential if you want to be taken seriously.

A writer is a professional who makes a consistent income from writing.

This can be true. The definition of consistent may vary. I know that I began by approaching only a few hundred dollars a month from writing work. I had some months where I had no income from that source. At the same time, I was consistently seeking work. As a writing professional I took action.

  • I actively built my portfolio.
  • I built a free website on Office Live.
  • I focused on bridging the gap from when I studied journalism to what the market demands of writers today.
  • I applied every piece of knowledge I gained into strengthening my ability to write compelling materials.

To put the title "writer" on a resume, suggest you need to be more than someone who has started their own blog. Despite the fact that I have a ghostwriting tips blog, it is not this blog that makes me a writer. It's the fact that people read this blog and actually benefit from it that supports my claim that I am a writer.

A writer is someone who can explain different topics in language that the average person can understand.

This truly is a skill that not everyone possesses. In some ways, every writer needs to have a teacher's heart, the ability to break things down into understandable packages. Some writers are gifted with the ability to reach very young minds. That's why there are writers of children's books. Other writers just can not get down to that level, yet remain effective writers for a different audience.

A writer is more than someone who starts their own blog.

There are good blogs and so-so blogs. To truly claim to be a writer, the blog can not be riddled with grammar errors. A few spelling and punctuation errors are forgivable, especially as most blog writers can not afford a separate set of eyes to edit their work.

A writer is someone who crafts words to influence others.

It's the power to dig into the meaning of words and craft them as you have done that signifies a writer. The fact that you can express your arguments succinctly using words in their written form defines that you are a writer. Maybe that is the definition we should be holding to here. "A writer is someone who can write with words so effectively they can influence others whether they do it for pay or not."

It's not whether your work appears on the eviscerated remnants of a tree or on the electronic representation of a page that makes you a writer. It's whether your words move and / or motivate. A novelist may move through the creation of characters and plots. A web writer may motivate to action by carefully chosen words.

Both are writers. Both use their power over words to create an experience in the mind. That experience would not be there without the writer's ability to craft words.

What makes a writer a writer? We'll probably never be able to agree on a single definition. Too may people would disagree with the writer's version of the artist's definition, "A writer is a writer because he / she writes."