“You know everybody is ignorant… just on different subjects.” Will Rogers
I’ve been meaning to give you some tips you can use, like, immediately to help your business boost its mojo.
So here’s a specific tactic that will absolutely pump your copy full of good energy the first time you even dabble in it.
It’s advanced copywriting voodoo from deep in my bag of tricks… yet very simple to pull off.
My favorite kind of tool.
Before I just dump this tactic into your lap, though…
… I think I’ll explain where it came from.
Might give you some context. And make you feel more confident using it.
Here’s the story: I am not a naturally-gifted writer…
… though I loved the act of writing as soon as I learned the alphabet. It was just so cool to be able to scratch out symbols with my big pencil (tongue firmly stuck out the side of my mouth) and make people laugh when they read it.
Or respond in any old way at all.
I wish I could say my Inner Salesman was tickled awake by this discovery, but he was still fast asleep… even as I got sucked into the world of great fiction, and created a hobby of trying to mimic what I was reading.
I wrote a terrifically horrible little novella in the sixth grade based on the “Mars Attacks!” bubble gum card series. (You may remember the mid-nineties movie they made about that series, starring Jack Nicholson. Great fun.)
At age 13, I wrote several short stories based on my own fevered post-adolescent twist on James Bond. Just brutally awful stuff.
I mean, what the hell does a 13-year-old know about drinking vodka and slaying women with a wink?
Not a damn thing.
Still, the entire English class once skipped lunch to hear me read one of those absurd tales.
I may have almost flunked, because my knowledge of basic grammar sucked… but I had an inkling on how to tell a story.
And yet, the more I “tried” to write, the worse I got. Right into and past college, the stories became more and more bloated with tangents and flowery language that would have choked a Victorian.
You know what the turning point was, for me, in my quest to become a decent writer?
Saved my ass.
All my heroes — Claude Hopkins, John Caples, David Ogilvy — wrote in a similar manner. Very sparse, very on-target, very no-bullshit-allowed.
And I had my epiphany about five minutes into writing my very first ad.
You see, most rookies try to goose the power of their writing with adjectives. And no matter how deep your adjective vocabulary becomes, your writing will forever be variations of a vapid Valley Girl trying to explain an experience:
“It was so, you know, like, amazing. Really, really amazing and fabulous beyond belief. It just… it just rocked, you know?…”
Adjectives, I quickly learned, are a tool for the communication-challenged.
They actually hurt your writing, more than help it.
No matter how cool you believe your precious adjective is.
Oh, go look it up, if you can’t remember what an adjective is. Good grief, man, it’s a fundamental element of the language you use everyday.
I’ll wait while you do a wiki search…
Here’s your tip for the week: Strip ALL adjectives from your next attempt at sales copy.
Every last buggery one.
And write only in simple, unadorned sentences. Make zero effort to “fluff up” your meaning with adjectives.
And… guess what?
You have just automatically made your writing more readable, and probably more powerfully communicative.
Now, yes, all the top writers do occasionally use adjectives. Often in headlines. (Where would I be today without the word “amazing”?)
However… a pro makes sure his sentence can thrive even without any adjectives… before inserting one.
That nasty thing must EARN its way into your pitch.
Your sentence must scream for it. The foundation of your story must teeter and begin to crumble… before you give in and insert a single, tasty, mojo-laced adjective.
Treat them like nitroglycerin. Use sparingly and only when absolutely called for.
However, your time will be BETTER SPENT looking for action verbs instead.
That’s what separates the killer writer from the hack and the wannabe: Verbs.
My rule: No verb is repeated on any manuscript page of copy.
You know what that means? When I’m writing at fever pitch, I’m letting verbs drive the narrative.
And I can only use words like “get” once a page.
That’ll make you reach for the ginko and the Thesaurus. (Just never, ever use a word you know is not commonly understood by your reader. Don’t get too fancy, or you’ll lose him, and lose the sale.)
Quick example: The word “walk”.
As in, “he walked down the street”. How about “he staggered down the street”? Different image.
And what about “he lurched down the street”? Sober, healthy people don’t lurch. Drunk, hurt or zombified people do.
He bolted down the street. He raced down the street in a blind panic…
First time though, you just write. Use boring verbs, and don’t fuss with them.
When you’re done, let the copy get cold (at least 12 hours, if you can).
Then, go back… and edit viciously.
Challenge every verb you’ve used. You’ll be embarrassed by the number of times you’ve used “get” and “got” and other sleep-inducing deadwood verbs. Over and over and over, as if you’d never heard of another verb choice in your life.
Don’t get cute. Don’t get clever.
Just beef up your writing with good word selection. Mostly your verbs.
You’ll know you’ve reached Buddha-hood when you stop using adjectives altogether.
No matter how amazing they may seem at first blush…
Love to hear your experience with writing — especially harrowing tales of struggle and breakthrough and redemption.
Plus any input you have from using this tip.
Interact away, guys.
P.S. BTW, I have been successfully brainwashed into finally joining the Twitter cult (by my pal Eric, who remains the ONLY marketer I know who can demonstrate he’s actually earned cash moolah using it).
I’ll be sending out invitations to join me in Twitterland.
It’s actually pretty fucking cool, once you engage.
Assuming, of course, that the people you tweet with are interesting, deranged, or drunk.
More as events unfurl…
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