Copy That

Most of my writing this month has been in the form of copywriting and, jeez, do I miss fiction. Churning out “welcome” scripting and press releases makes for a fun occasional challenge, but is no substitute for spending an afternoon putting a character in hot water (figuratively if it’s action, literally if it’s romance) and then figuring out how to get them out again (with a gun if it’s action, with a hot guy if it’s romance).

But one thing that copywriting does provide is practice in how to think about writing. When the word count is proscribed, and the client says that it should be sort of, maybe, be something about this random list of things that has been collected, suddenly it becomes very important to communicate what the over-arching message is. What is the hierarchy of information that needs to be communicated? What does the audience/reader care about? How can we determine what needs to be said and what can be left out? In copywriting, the ability to construct thoughts clearly and to analyze and think critically about a piece come to the forefront. In a novel, an author can spend a bit more time decorating the place with adjectives and allowing characters to spiel off witty bits of dialogue that may not particularly move the story forward. In copywriting, there’s usually room for only one or two adjectives and they had better be the right adjective that supports the speaker or brands character. Copywriting skills are like exercising a new set of muscles and definitely make me a stronger writer. But on the other hand, I’ll be glad to go back to fiction! For one thing, they rarely let me write about hot guys or guns in copywriting.