Want more proven-in-the-lab techniques for achieving your writing resolutions this year? Join PRSA and Ann Wylie at one of our 2023 Master Classes. You’ll learn to write messages that reach more readers and get the word out. Plus: You’ll get feedback from Ann and your colleagues in live coaching and editing sessions.
I’m a poor resolver. For many years, my New Year’s Resolution was “I resolve not to resolve,” which made me a bit of a Grinch at New Year’s Day parties.
But if you’ve resolved to become a better writer this year, here’s help — six of my favorite 2023 writing resolutions to make today:
- Make it a metaphor.
It’s tempting to call metaphor the magic wand of a writer’s repertoire, the Penn and Teller of the page.
Metaphor has the power to persuade far better than literal language. It lets you say in five words what would otherwise take five paragraphs to explain. It makes readers’ brains light up, helps them think more broadly about your message — even (ahem!) gives the illusion that the communicator is more attractive.
- Do your homework.
“Without great reporting, a story is like one big comb-over,” says Ann Hull, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The Washington Post. “You can see it from the third paragraph.”
Too many PR pieces don’t even attempt to hide the bald spot.
Have you been relying on the deck, an email exchange or a 5-Ws interview to craft a compelling story? You probably need to make a date with your BFF and research assistant Google for some solid background research as well.
Get goods at getting the goods.
- Think Outside the Pyramid.
The feature-style story structure has been proven in the lab to increase readership, understanding, memory and satisfaction. The inverted pyramid has been proven in the lab to reduce these things.
Let’s make 2023 the year we stop it using this 178-year-old hierarchical blurtation of facts. OK? Please?
- Stop writing about “us and our stuff.”
Call it selfish empathy. Or maybe narcissistic altruism.
The more you focus on the reader and the reader’s needs, the more you’ll draw readers into your message and move them to act.
The more you drone on and on about your organization and its products, services, programs and ideas, the less readers will read what you want them to read and do what you want them to do.
So what is the actual goal of your message again?
- Don’t stop at the subject line.
The subject line is only one of four elements your recipients use to decide whether to open your email, delete without reading or put your message in the spam filter.
Are you crafting powerful preheaders, preview panes and from lines? Or are you ignoring the other 75% of elements that convince recipients to open?
- Borrow a tip from The New York Times.
The most common length of a quote in the Times is seven words, plus attribution.
How long are your quotes? Would they be twice as good if they were half (or one-tenth) as long?
Turn lame quotes into snappy soundbites.
Resolve to be a better writer this year …
Follow through on these resolutions, and you’ll soon be reaching more readers and moving them to act.
Happy New Year!
Ann Wylie works with communicators who want to reach more readers and with organizations that want to get the word out. To learn more about her training, consulting or writing and editing services, contact her at ann@WylieComm.com. Get FREE writing tips here. Find more than 2,000 writing tip sheets at RevUpReadership.com.
Copyright © 2023 Ann Wylie. All rights reserved.[Photo credit: Panitan]
Loved the word “blurtation,” which I assume was a combination of recitation and blurting. Nice word choice!
I really like the advice under ” Stop writing about us and our stuff”. I didn’t realize how important it is to draw your reader in with words that are directed towards them and captivate them to continue reading, they will be more inclined to want to read your piece. So it is definitely worth it to try and stray away from writing about yourself and try to focus more on the readers needs. Thank you for this great advice!