writing - how to write a damn good sentence

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  • 1. 5 WAY S T O W R I T E A Damn GoodSentence

2. Average copywriterswrite average sentences. 3. You, Im guessing, dontwant to be average. 4. You want to be great.You want to be!remarkable. 5. That means you need to writedamn good sentences !without even thinking about it !day in and day out. 6. Do that and youll becomean unstoppable writingmachine.!Youll become akiller copywriter. 7. See, everything you writebegins and ends with asentence. 8. We have a number ofresearch studies to thankfor this discovery. 9. The first one is primacy.!It refers to our tendencyto remember items at thebeginning of a list. 10. Other studies suggest youll always remember:!morewordsfromtheendofalist!than from the beginning simply because thoseare the last words you read. 11. This is called recency. 12. Together, primacy andrecency make up the serialposition effect,!!a term coined by German psychologistHermann Ebbinghaus (1850 1909). 13. T H I S C A N B E S E E N I N T H ES E R I A L P O S I T I O N C U RV E :! 14. In 1946, Solomon E. Asch upped theante with studies that evaluated theimpact the position of words had onpeople.!The study we care about involveshow we position adjectives todescribe a person. 15. Read the following two sentences.!!Steve is smart, diligent, critical,impulsive, and jealous.!Steve is jealous, impulsive,critical, diligent, and smart. 16. These two sentencescontain thesame information. 17. However, when a group ofparticipants were given the firstsentence ...!!they reported Steve ina positive light. 18. And the group given the secondsentence?!Yep.!They reported Steve ina negative light. 19. Thirty years later,William Cranodecided to sharpenthe distinctionthe impactorderhas on meaning. 20. His studies uncoveredadditional effects, particularlywith the use of adjectives. 21. Change of meaning hypothesisEarly adjectives establish anexpectation, which the readerthen filters all the subsequentadjectives through. 22. Inconsistency discountingOptions presented later thatdont match earlierexpectations are downgraded. 23. Attention decrement hypothesisEarly adjectives wieldconsiderable influence thanlater ones (we saw this in theSteve sentences). 24. All these conclusions areimportant when it comes topersuasive writing for severalreasons. 25. Take this long-windedsentence from Lisa Millers2012 article Listening toXanax ... 26. Twenty years ago, just before Kurt Cobain blewoff his head with a shotgun, it was cool for KateMoss to haunt the city from the sides of buseswith a visage like an empty store and for Wurtzelto confess in print that she entertained fantasiesof winding up, like Plath or Sexton, a massivetalent who died too soon, young and sad, acorpse with her head in the oven. 27. That Miller ends this sentencewith young and sad, a corpsewith her head in the ovenis NOT an accident. 28. Decisions had to be madewhen crafting that sentence.!!Guaranteed it did not flow fromMillers mind in the published form. 29. It was a piecemeal affair.An experimentation witheffect. 30. And this is the craft of writinga damn good sentence. 31. Bone up on yoursentence-writing skills!and those pieces of contentwill only get better!and be morewidely shared. 32. Want to learn how?Follow me. 33. Insert Facts1 34. This is nothing more than basic subject andverb agreement:!!Moses ate a muffaletta.!!Logical and consistent.The building blocks of a story. 35. You insert facts by thinking through the 5 Ws:!WhoWhatWhenWhereWhy!Think specific and concrete. 36. Compare these two sentences.!!On the first day of winter, Moses fed hismuffuletta to the woolly mammoth.!On the last day of winter, Moses fed hismuffuletta to the woolly mammoth. 37. The significance is heightenedin the first sentence,minimized in the second.!All by one word.(Can you find that word?) 38. And notice how your sympathieschange when I write:!!On the first day of winter, Moses fed hismuffuletta to the three-day old woollymammoth. 39. Those new facts heightenthe emotional appeal ofthat simple story. 40. Create Images2 41. Its not a coincidencethat the root of imaginationis image. 42. Imagination is the capacity forpeople to see the world youare trying to paint. 43. Intelligent people like to usetheir imagination.!!So, dont insult their intelligence byover-explaining but also dont abusetheir intelligence by starving it. 44. Use active verbs and concrete nounsand you will naturally create images.!!The buzzard bled. 45. Introduce one (or all) of the five sensesand youll enhance those images:!!The screaming buzzard bled. 46. Use phrases like imagine this orpicture this to signal to yourreader you are about to paint apicture. 47. Imagine a fifty-something man in a bluelong-sleeve shirt, the cuffs unbuttoned,his knuckles thick and coarse. Hes onthe side of the road, quibbling over astack of used cinder blocks with amerchant.!from 10 Productivity Tips from a Blue-Collar Genius 48. In those two sentences,you learn the color of the shirt,the state of the cuffs,and the condition of his knuckles. 49. You learn where he is andwhat he is doing in concretelanguage. 50. The writer uses very precise language totell you what he was doing.!For example, the character in the storywasnt talking, he was quibbling.!!Something entirely differentthan chatting. 51. Evoke Emotion3 52. You can naturally get mood into yoursentences if you follow the two previoussteps.!!But as a copywriter you dont wantemotion to be an afterthought. 53. You must carefully planand manufacture emotion. 54. This starts by asking:!What is the dominant mood of your reader or customer?What problem is he or she trying to solve?Is it fear over losing a job? A spouse? A scholarship?Pride of donating to a good cause? Joy for finally gettingmuscular definition in his calves? 55. Heres an example. 56. How often are these little tragediesrepeated in your life?!You write something clever, but everyone ignores it.You hear about a new opportunity, but dont pursue itbecause you dont have the skills or confidence toattempt it.You get overlooked by everybody including your boss because the guy in the next cubicle seems to knoweverything about SEO, email marketing, or copywriting.You hear about all the new clients your peers are pickingup but none are showing up at your door. 57. In that short opening,I identified the relevant painand agitated it so the solutionwas a no brainer. 58. But notice those four conditions are allabout rejection. Yet !I didnt use the word reject, or aderivative, once. I didnt tell you theemotion you should feel. I simplyshowed it to you. 59. Big difference in thequality of writing. 60. Make Promises4 61. As a copywriter, you arent merelyinterested in heightening peoplesemotions for the sake of heighteningemotions.!Otherwise, youd be anovelist or screenwriter. 62. Entertainment is not acopywritersbread and butter. 63. Getting action is. 64. So, you need people to see hope inyour sentences:!What promises are you making to the reader in thissentence?What advantages will the reader gain?What pain will people avoid if they obey you? 65. In the opening to The Dirty Little Secretto Seducing Readers, I wrote !Im guessing you want to write copy thatsells. You want to write copy so irresistible itmakes your readers scramble down the page begging to do whatever it is you want whentheyre done reading whether its to make apurchase, send a donation, or join yournewsletter. 66. The promise is that you can learnhow to write in such a way peoplecant resist your words.!!And thats compellingfor the right people. 67. Practice, Practice,5Practice. 68. Writing great sentencestakes work. 69. At first it may feelmechanical, wooden.!Thats okay. 70. The goal is to get to a point whereyou unconsciously blend theseelements so they feel natural in thesentence and cant be pulled apart. 71. Sort of like when a golf instructorstops your swing to adjust yourmechanics. 72. That may feel mechanical andunnatural, but eventually yourswing becomes natural and hestops interrupting you. 73. Here are some exercises tohelp you improve yoursentence writing. 74. Exercise #1: Copy great sentences!!Hand-write 100 great first sentences.Memorize portions of great sales letters.Dissect killer lines. 75. Exercise #2: Concentrate on youropening and closing paragraphs!Its arduous to consciously think about eachand every sentence you write in a 500-wordarticle.!Concentrate your powers on the beginningand the ending. 76. Exercise #3: Labor over headlines!!Your headlines wont be completesentences, but they offer you anopportunity to focus closely on what youare writing. 77. Exercise #4: Labor over subject lines!!Unlike headlines, you can use your subjectline in an unconventional way. 78. Thought of you while I wasat the steam bath.!Whos NOT going to openthat email up?!!And make sure to measure responses,adjust, and test more ideas. 79. Exercise #5: Labor over your tweets!!Twitter is the perfect mechanism for perfectingyour sentences.!You are forced to say a lot in 140 characters.And you get feedback. 80. People either respond or they dont. 81. Check for retweets, favorites, andreplies.!And if you dont get a response, trysharing it again at a different time. 82. Your Turn 83. Each sentence in a 500-word article maynot be great !!but the more you practice thefundamentals, the closer you aregoing to get to perfection. 84. Dont give up. 85. Keep pluggingaway. 86. One sentenceat a time. 87. Click to learn more atcopyblogger.com


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