A Day in the Life …

… of a Professional Copywriter

copywriting-blueAt launch: “Give us some of your really emotional, tug on the heartstrings copy. Can you get it done in under 200 words?”

After CS review: “We LOVE it! But we’re nervous about space when this goes to design. Do you think you can keep the emotional power, but trim it to about 75 words or so?”

After design has a look: “It’s AWESOME! But design wants to know if you can keep it emotionally engaging, but get it into two sentences.”

After the client reviews it: “Do you think you capture it … using only emojis and punctuation?”

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3 Keys to Working with Editors

More than a year ago I posted, Who Needs and Editor? You! If you think you don’t, you’re silly. Go back and read it.

bluepencilWorking with editors over the years has led me to a conclusion–there are three keys to help you develop a happy and productive author/editor relationship. Get these three things right and you won’t go wrong.

#1 Choose and editor who gets you. Yes, you need someone who is skilled in the field, but when it comes to your manuscript, it is even more important that your editor recognizes your style, tone and voice and doesn’t nix them with their editing strokes. This takes rapport at least, relationship at best. If your editor doesn’t take the time to get you, get another editor.

#2 Be very clear about the kind of editing you are looking for your editor to complete. Do you simply want a proofreading? Perhaps simple line-editing? More in-depth or substantive editing? Clarity at the get-go will make you both much more comfortable within the process.

#3 Produce a stylesheet to accompany your manuscript to your editor. If you don’t know what a manuscript stylesheet is, Google is your friend. There are several templates available on the web. Simply put, this is a sheet that will allow your editor to understand your choice of words, terms, style and formatting throughout. It will help the editor bring consistency to their work, and more importantly, to your manuscript.

There you have it… wisdom, wisdom, wisdom… and for free!

Had any good (or not so good) author/editor experiences to share?

Improving Our Craft

Always on the lookout for ways to get better at what we do, I’ve endeavored a series of posts here that I hope will provide some great insights and thought provocation where our craft is concerned. How does the old saying go? If the shoe fits … Drink deeply!

BullseyeiconMark Twain once said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I’ve written a long one instead.” What he meant was that it takes work to write succinctly. Or as I’ve encouraged before: Write it; then trim it. Nothing can improve our writing like the delete key!

Here I’ll offer a handful of the words you could (read: should) target:

Literally – When something is true in a literal sense, you don’t need to add the word literally. It clutters. The only time you should use the word literally in your writing is when you need to clarify that you’re serious when it is entirely possible that you are joking. Suppose a well-trained athlete wrote, “I literally ran five miles today.” Literally is a wasted word. It should read, “I ran five miles today.” He’s a great athlete. We take him at his word. Now if I wrote, “I ran five miles today” you wouldn’t believe it. (Nor should you!) So if by some miracle I actually did run five miles, that would be a place where literally would bring clarity–Darin’s not kidding, he literally did it. Are you okay, Darin? Do you need oxygen?

Very – Let’s be honest: very is a very weak word. The rock is very hard. How much harder than hard is very hard? Have you ever met a soft rock? When we use very in a sentence we’re attempting to intensify the description. But the description doesn’t need intensifying. Your reader gets it. Rocks are hard. Really. Oh, and there’s another …

Really – Just like very, really is another oft wasted word. “It’s really important that you sign up.” Try this: “Sign up! It’s important!” Do you see what I mean? Really really adds nothing. In fact, it takes away from the aim–which is “sign up!” Sort of like the word literally mentioned above, unless your reader has some reason to doubt the point you’re making, the word really should be chopped.

Totally – I think this one is a holdover from the Jeff Spiccoli vocabulary from Ridgemont High (or perhaps the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), “That’s totally awesome, Dude!” But (imagine this in Mr. Hand’s voice) let’s consider the meaning of the word totally, shall we? It means … wait for it … in totality. Consider this sentence: “I was totally shocked.” Can you be partially shocked? You’re either shocked or your not. So which it is? Write “I was shocked.” That says all you need to say.

I get that we all go kicking and screaming through the trim phase. But try me on this one–cut those words out and see for yourself, your writing will be better for it! Nothing screams literary novice quite as loudly as frequent appearances of literally, very, really and totally in your writing.