He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know about it, and so copywriting may become a rich source of Now I Know mini-essays. I do know a few things about writing, in general. Here are some of the pearls I frequently share with my writing students, in no particular order.
- Show don’t tell;
- Be clear and concise;
- Choose the right word;
- Write active sentences;
- Understand parallelism;
- The most important part of the introduction is the hook;
- OK, I lied: the hook is the most important part of the introduction that comes before the thesis, which is the most important part of the entire thing;
- (Still, come up with a good hook, otherwise nobody will read your thesis);
- Think about your audience, but don’t pander to them;
- If you imagine that your audience is *this much* dumber than you are, you will write with more clarity and coherence. This is not pandering;
- Don’t use “you”*;
- You can begin a sentence with “Because”*, but only when “Because” is used in the sense of “Since”;
- When in doubt, describe;
- Revise as many times as time allows;
- Proofread at least once more than you think you need to.
A copywriter who added some tricks from Classical Rhetoric to that list could do pretty well. But that’s a topic for another day.
*Here my experience as a writing teacher bumps up against my experience as a demographic target and a copywriter. One would be hard pressed to find ad copy that does not rely heavily on both “you” and “because” (and not in the sense of “since”).