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Friday, August 13, 2010

Hopscotch Prose

Yesterday I read the proposed advertising copy for a collection of short stories that I wrote and which will be released in about four months (Miss Budge In Love).

At first I liked the copy block. Then, I read it a second time and began to see that the ideas did not join together logically. The ideas leap-frogged from one sentence to the next without a joiner that bridged them for the reader.

On the third reading underneath all that ego-pleasing praise I identified word choices that suited a non-fiction self-help book better than a collection of mostly humorous short stories intended to prompt readers to laugh at my featured character and at themselves. The tone of the words should match the character of the product.

When I tried to name what was wrong, it occurred to me that I was looking at a verbal equivalent of the game Hopscotch where the player jumps from one number to the next but the pattern of numbers usually written in chalk on a sidewalk don't make a meaningful shape. Further, the player--in this case, the copy block that was supposed to position my product in the marketplace-- was trying to find a balance on one leg and wouldn't last for long. If I had used that copy block my book wouldn't have had a very long life because if sales depended on that description it couldn't stand up in a marketplace for long.

I want my product to have the longest shelf life possible. I want every aspect of the promotion of it to be the best I can produce or oversee. Yesterday, I thought that the tone, word choice, and shape of my promotional copy wasn't strong enough to represent my work competitively in the marketplace of selling books.

I rewrote the copy and substituted all of it. I am still paying the copywriter because the hired writer did the best he could; however, I don't think the final product is supports my purposes--to sell books--so I won't use it.

That's not arrogance. It's not vanity. It's business.
And that's what this blog will be about. Whatever your trade--however you plan to earn money--you will need to have a greater command of how you use words.

This column will offer tips and perspectives to help everyone who is in business to understand the dynamics of writing in basic, daily ways in order to become a more professional writer and, consequently, as night follows day, more profitable in your work when you do.

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