A guest post by Derek Thompson
image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/winemegup/6963587854/sizes/l
Business writing and creative writing may seem worlds apart, but Copywriting, when it’s done well, combines the best of both disciplines.
Once upon a time
Of course no self-respecting novelist would start their book with a cliché beginning. You need an opening line that grabs the reader’s attention and piques their curiosity. Those few first words are all a reader has to decide whether they want to continue reading or need to move on to something else.
The opening sentence of your copy needs to engage your audience, set expectations and compel the reader to want to find out more. You can make use a bold statement, ask a question, turn logic on its head or make the reader feel they’re party to a secret.
Still stuck for ideas? Take a look at some of these opening lines and think about how you’d define them.
The plot thickens
Although there may be subplots later on in a novel the main themes and conflicts are usually established at the earliest opportunity. You want the reader to know what it’s all about as soon as possible because you want them to stay hooked. When it comes to writing copy make sure that your central themes are clearly defined. What is it that you want to say, what will someone learn from reading your words and why should it matter to them? In short, what’s the pay-off for spending time with you today?
The middle of a book may focus on the resolution of some of the conflicts. In copywriting, your first section introduces the main themes and points, leading to the middle section, which can explore them in more depth. Just as any good novel contains twists and turns, your copy may include counterpoints and other elements that add depth to the central themes. Additional information that adds weight to your arguments, or demonstrates your skill as a researcher, can improve the piece and also improve your standing.
Happily ever after?
The end of a book needs to satisfy the reader in some respect. It may not be the ending they were expecting – or even one they like – but the reader should feel that the writer has taken them on a journey and drawn matters to a conclusion. Similarly, good copywriting has to meet the expectations set by your headline and opening statement; the closing section needs to summarise the main points and complete the piece. This is where you have either delivered the goods, or got lost on the way!
Some novels are part of a series and some pieces of copy lend themselves to association with other pieces of your writing. This is something you may want to consider when you outline the brief and pitch it to a client. (Hint: suggesting other pieces can demonstrate that you’re thinking long-term, as long as you keep it to an outline.)
Fiction can take place anywhere, any when and any how. Copywriting, however, has to meet certain objectives, but that doesn’t preclude a little inventiveness. Engage the emotions to engage your audience – delight, thrill, shock or perhaps even outrage your readers. Play with metaphor and simile to enrich your work and give it colour.
You need a good title / headline, a beginning, a middle and a definitive end. Let your words become an expression of your style (or your client’s, if that was the brief!), as well as an intelligent presentation of facts and ideas. Above all, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, do your story justice.
About the author
Derek Thompson is a freelance copywriter who also writes novels and short fiction. My debut thriller, Standpoint, has been launched by Joffe Books and combines action, intrigue and dark humour.
Thomas Bladen has been living a double-life for two years. He’s a civil service photographer, working in London, but the Surveillance Support Unit also assists other government departments. The SSU is staffed by ex-forces personnel, careerists and Thomas. He has an eye for details that other people miss and a talent for finding trouble – a combination that was never going to bring him an easy life. When Thomas uncovers a web of deceit and treachery that threatens everything – and everyone – he holds dear, can one good man hold the line without crossing it?
Image credit: meg’s my name
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