Copywriting 911

The one who cuts often
is a barber, a butcher, –
or a great writer.


Have you ever wondered why most people would prefer a story to a multi-volumed novel? Why O’Henri is easier to read than Charles Dickens? And why on earth your brilliant content didn’t bomb as you’d expected it to?

You may think people on the Web ignore long posts because they are focused on making money rather than on reading. It’s a double error. First some topics require truly detailed descriptions. Secondly readers hate wasting their time not so much on long pages, but on boring ones.

The thing about brevity is that you keep only the most significant words, cutting out everything occasional and far-fetched. As a result, your copy becomes fast-paced, and your idea – quite clear. But that doesn’t mean you should simply cut every second word/sentence. As the above haiku says, a writer must know where and what to cut exactly. By the way, practicing this ancient Japanese style can be very useful, as it teaches to organize thinking.

All in all, if you’ve just realized your writing isn’t as excellent as it had seemed before, try these 4 steps to short writing.

1. “The present letter is a very long one, simply because I had no leisure to make it shorter.”

Blaise Pascal

First of all keep aside the idea that writing short phrases is easy. Just try – and you’ll see: it’s a drudgery (at least when you start).

Think through your topic and jot down a few sentences or word combinations that express your idea the best. Unless you write a press release or a newsletter, you don’t have to answer the notorious “5 W’s and How”, but make sure you gave the reader all the necessary details.

2. “It is with words as with sunbeams. The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.”

Robert Southey

Now it’s time to cut. Replace, when it is possible, lengthy expressions with simple ones and compound words with monosyllabic ones. Write short. But pithy. Don’t get upset if you can’t find the exact words at once – it will come with experience (provided you work hard, trying on dozens of words, and not just waiting for your inborn talent to show).

3. “The only problem
with Haiku is that you just
get started and then”

Roger McGough

… and then you find out that half a page is already written and you haven’t come to the point yet. Work on the overall text structure. Such parts of narrative as introduction, body and conclusion weren’t invented by cruel school teachers to make people’s life hell. Make sure your copy is well-structured and logical. Once again – cut all unnecessary words or even paragraphs. Don’t feel sorry for them – they only put a spoke in the wheel of your creativity.

4. “The more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle.”

Author Unknown

Do practice. Once you’ve caught the basics of short and pithy writing, try your strength. You can perfect your skills by describing your thoughts and emotions in one-sentence stories, six-word sentences and haiku – a classic Japanese verse which includes only 17 syllables. Polish your style and become a brilliant writer.

They say, brevity is the soul of wit. And I’d add that wit is the heart of author’s income. Isn’t it good motivation for improving your writing style?

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