We should all be writing for people, not algorithms. Yet generating fresh content everyday can become a challenge even for professional writers. Ideally, we could all hire a copywriter to give us engaging, optimized and sticky copy — but many of us end up writing it ourselves and then wishing we’d done one more draft.
Writing Like You’ve Got a Soul
People like to buy from people they can relate to. Not machines, not snobby professors (unless they are one), and not from someone just going through the motions. Your writing style is getting you classified as one of the above whether you like it or not.
Yeah, I know you’ve got a lot of reasons why you’re putting readers to sleep:
- Your topic is very dry
- You need to provide a lot of legalese due to regulations
- You have to generate a lot of copy quickly
Those are just excuses. If you want people to read, then you need to make it worth reading.
Use All the Words
Having a large vocabulary is good. Having a thesaurus is better. Yet neither will help you much if you aren’t looking for the right kinds of words. This is where knowing the parts of speech is important.
What are Parts of Speech?
Parts of speech are the different categories that words are assigned to based on their syntactical usage. For our purposes, just remember that each category has a rule set for how a word is used. Many words can be used as different parts of speech, and we often create our own new usages in specific settings.
You probably remember some of this from grade school or a snippy English professor, but most of us focus on nouns, verbs and adjectives. We all use adverbs, conjunctions, interjection, pronouns & prepositions everyday, but most people get a blank stare when you force them to identify these other parts of speech.
Using different parts of speech (along with keyword synoynms and variants) is a great way to make your writing more interesting, better optimized and more fun to write.
Nope, You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Interject
Interjections are words that we insert into writing and speech that don’t have any specific connection or necessity to what we’re writing/saying. They are often exclamations or affirmations like, “Alright then” or “Huh”. Injecting some of these into a sentence can drastically change it’s tone.
“If you need help, then call us.” vs. “If you need help, then call us, alright.”
I’m not saying either of those sentences will win me a Man Booker Award, but you can hear the difference when you read them. The first one is straight and impersonal. The second seems more casual or off-the-cuff, even though I’ve only added one word.
Interjections can go anywhere in a sentence — beginning, middle, or end — and gives you a bit more flavor. They’re great when you are making a declaration, summing up a point or trying to surprise someone.
Courageously Using Adverbs
Adverbs are words we use to modify verb, adjectives or other adverbs. They are different from adjectives because adjectives only modify nouns or pronouns. BUT adjectives can often be turned into adverbs with the addition of an -ly at the end (smooth to smoothly for example). Yeah, explaining English grammer can be a pain.
We constantly use adverbs to describe things. It’s our preferred way to describe action. “He moved quietly through the trees.”; “Efficiently manage your time.”; and so on.
Adding the right adverb can turn a bland bit of copy into something more convincing.
Use a 1/8in screw to mount the headboard. vs. Use a 1/8in screw to quickly mount the headboard
Again, one word in the right place changes the whole thing.
Adverbs are a great way to add agency to your writing. They can get a reader thinking about the acts they’ll perform with your product or service instead of focusing on just the facts. Use them sparingly to emphasize the value to the reader.
English is Hard But Fun
I’m starting rewrites on my site next month, so this post is as much for me as for you. The English language is a hodge-podge of several different linguistic traditions and changes as more and more cultures adopt it for regular use. Of course, that means we have to keep learning. But fortunately, it gives us a lot to work with when writing.
Feature image via Seriable
Note: I loved Almost Human on Fox. Really hate that it was cancelled. It was fun, visually gorgeous and had a lot of potential.