The Five-Minute Copy Fix

Posted on March 22, 2016 By

The deadline looms. Your copy is ready to go. Or is it? Sure you don’t want to spend 5 minutes giving it extra oomph? These nifty tips learned in my early days as a Junior Copywriter will quickly improve your writing.

Minute 1: Little words don’t always mean a lot

If a sentence makes sense without a word then should it be there? A good example is ‘the’. A pesky little word which has a tendency to pop up unnecessarily. Or ‘that’, or ‘just’, or ‘very’. Axe them and tighten up your copy.

So instead of saying that you need to make sure every word that you use makes a difference, simply say: make every word count.

Minute 2: Release the verb

Verbs give copy oomph and energy. Nouns on the other hand are merely labels. Corporate and b2b writing has a habit of smothering verbs and turning them into nouns – manage to management for instance. Verbs that have been turned into nouns are easy to spot. Check words that end -tion, -sion, -ment, -ance and -ence.

For example, change ‘this is a demonstration’ to ‘this demonstrates’ (or even better ‘this shows’).

Minute 3: Keep it varied

As well as checking for overly long sentences, actively add variety to your copy. You’ve got a minute, add in an ultra short sentence. Not something you would usually do? Good. Writing is boring when it’s predicable. So spice it up.

Minute 4: Don’t be a parrot

Repeating yourself kills your reader’s interest. I’ve been writing course descriptions for a university. In many, the phrase ‘appreciation, knowledge and understanding’ cropped up. Is there a much of a difference between those? Not really. So axe the redundant words.

Minute 5: Use your ear

If you haven’t read it out loud, now’s the time. Your last check uses your ear as editor. You’ll hear whether it sounds natural, where you sound more like the client and less like the customer.

And … time’s up! Now look at your copy and be amazed at the difference you’ve made.

Categorised in:

This post was written by Hayley Cherrett