An Important Reminder for Us…and Our Clients!

An Important Reminder for Us…and Our Clients!

Saw this on my LinkedIn feed and I’m still laughing. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Anne Rice Encourages Us All to Be the New Voice

When it comes to successful a author encouraging new writers, Anne Rice certainly does a great job in this video. Three things in particular stuck out to me:

1. Every year people break into the business that were no one. It’s no different now then it was then.
2. The publishing world is crying for new voices.
3. She dresses a little like Lestat.

So consider that today when you are working. She also tells us to write the book that’s “interesting to you”, to go where the pain is and write about what hurts. But most of all she tells us to “just write.”

The publishing world is looking for a new original voice…will it be yours?

If I Title This Link with a Question, Will More People Read My Post?

If I Title This Link with a Question, Will More People Read My Post?

One of my clients sent me this post today. It’s the same client that I just told last week that I don’t like when questions start copy. Needless to say, at least according to researchers at the BI Norwegian School, I was wrong. Apparently questions are an excellent way to start copy–if you want more people to read it. 

My aversion to questions at the beginning of copy has to do with years of writing marketing copy. Certain phrases raise my writers hackles as a result of reading thousands of words of marketing copy. Phrases like:

  • “…makes Widgets R Us you’re one-stop widget shop.”
  • For all your widget needs.

and my favorite…

  • “But wait, there’s MORE!”

I’m slightly annoyed even listing them here.

To me, it’s lazy writing to start your copy with a qualifying questions like,  “Do you have problems with your widget’s flagellating falletaboppers?” This question is trying to qualify the audience, of course, so if you do have problems with your flagellating falletaboppers you will read the rest. My problem with this technique is that it also disqualifies all the people whose falletaboppers are functioning just fine.

Now the researchers are referring to headlines, not marketing copy. Plus their questions are such that the audience is not quite as narrow as the Widget-Falletabopper crowd. So I could see times when this might work moving forward. 

What do you think about questions in marketing copy and headlines: lazy writing or a good method for attracting an audience? Do questions serve all your copywriting needs and are an essential part of your one-stop-SEO-shop? Please share your comments below.

 

But wait, there’s more…

If you hate questions as much as I do, share your favorite qualifying (and disqualifying) questions, too. 

 

“There’s no suc…

“There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.”
– Terry Pratchett

California…we take a lot of shots because everyone else is just jealous! Clearly CA is the most desirable and most hated state in the union. 

Do you agree with Mr. Pratchett that writer’s block doesn’t exist? Do you agree with me that CA takes a lot of grief because it is so awesome? Share your opinions in the comment section.

In 1984, AtariWriter Made it Easier to Be a Better Writer

When sifting through some memorabilia, I found an article in a yellowed edition of an old magazine that really made me realize how far technology has come for writers. Consider this ad from  “Home” magazine by the Los Angeles Times from July 22, 1984. 

Image

I will pause here so you can get as big a kick out of this as I did… 

The AtariWriter was a cartridge that you inserted into your console that used your TV as a monitor. It was connected through your ATARI Home Computer. Not only was this really high tech for 1984, but it also numbered your pages for you, automatically. I mean, with features like this it really is no wonder that their tagline was, “Discover What You and ATARI Can Do.”

 After I recovered from the fit of laughter and my breathless sprint around the house to try to explain (incoherently) the source of my mirth to my patient and bemused husband, I really appreciated how lucky I am to be a writer today in the time of computers.

 When I look at the pull quotes from this ad, I am especially grateful. Things like:

  • “Spend more time writing, no time retyping.” Holy typewriter ribbons, Batman! Retyping?  One of the big selling points of this cutting edge technology is that you could perfect your writing on your TV screen, before (they underlined the before in the ad…) you put it on paper.

 

  • “Not a word touches paper until you’re sure it’s right.” Holy tree cutting, Batman! They put their writing on paper?

 

  • “AtariWriter makes it easier to be a better writer.” Atari did a lot of things for me growing up. It entertained me on snowy afternoons in the Midwest. It taught me the futility of trying to defend my city from the onslaught of Nuclear attack with the dreary game Missile Command.  It helped me exploit the natural double joint in my knobby thumbs with its medieval joystick. But making me a better writer? I honestly never considered the possibilities there. 

 

  • “Are you a miserable speller?”  You could add a 36,000-word ATARI Proofreader program and it will find your errors for you. I wonder if it (unlike Word) could point out when I typed form that I really meant from…

 

  • “Stop by your Atari Dealer today.” I was alive in 1984. I was…well, let’s just say I was old enough to remember 1984 pretty clearly. I honestly don’t remember the Atari Dealership. But it does create some pretty interesting images in my mind. I see wild-eyed video game junkies sporting calloused thumbs and faded Star Trek t-shirts crowded around consoles getting intense over the new version of Pong.

All jokes aside, this article made me realize how lucky I am to be a writer when we take all this revision on the screen stuff for granted. I have already revised and edited this piece about 10 times by the time I typed this sentence. It would have been an enormous pain to type it, correct it, read it, mark it up, and type it again 10 times. I am guessing that many of my posts would be abandoned around draft 3…

 Consider the technology of the greats, as well. Poor Hemingway…no wonder he drank! But at least he had a typewriter; some of them had quills. Don’t you respect Charles Dickens and his verbose tomes so much more when you consider that he had to draft them with a goose feather? And what about Homer? Didn’t he have to use a chisel? I can only imagine how hard it was for him when he misspelled one of those Greek names, which based on the amount of letters and the complications of their language had to occur on a line-by-line basis.

I even feel bad for Alan Alda, the smiling celebrity spokesman of the AtariWriter.

Image

He’s smiling, but please note that his nose is buried in that user manual. His endorsement quote says, “You get to spend your energy on ideas rather than typing.” He may have been able to spend his energy on ideas rather than typing, but I doubt he’s spending any cash that he made on his percentage from this piece of equipment.

 We can surely all be better writers with all the technology we have at our fingertips. We no longer need “the sophisticated ATARI 1040 Disk Drive” to save our work for future use, we have hard drives, clouds, or drop boxes. If we need to print a copy for an aging relative or a stubborn editor, then we hit print and forget it. Heck, I can even play Pac Man on my computer if I really am hankering for a little 80s video game nostalgia.

So in honor of Atari, Dickens, and Alda, spend more time writing today and no time retyping. Revel in the fact that the pioneers at Atari paved the way for you to revise as you go on your monitor.  And please, for goodness sakes, please make sure “Not a word touches paper until you’re sure it’s right.”

 

“You have to wr…

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”

― Madeleine L’Engle

Sometimes I wonder why it is that I am drawn to writing children’s literature. Then I read a quote like this from a writer like her, and I remember that just because it’s for kids doesn’t mean that it isn’t challenging, engaging and compelling literature. I thank L’Engle for reminding me of that. Write what you love and the audience will find you.