Clients have opinions on writing, but not necessarily the ability to put them into action. That is the first thing you must learn as a writer: how to separate unhelpful criticism from productive feedback. The second is how to work with unclear instructions handed down from someone who may have studied writing, but has never been published on any platform. Flow, storytelling, and creative elements might be considerations for criticism you hear as a writer. Let’s decode them together.
Flow is how all your carefully chosen words flow together. Read your work aloud. Go to a quiet area and enunciate each word. Non-writers call this “mouth feel,” and the words you have selected may not sound the same when spoken out loud. Take a video or a voice note and listen to all the words coming together. As a writer, you may have just been happy to find useful words, but you have to make sure they are all compatible.
Which of these examples flow?
Example 1: Start a style dialog with our catalog.
Example 2: We went to the shoe store for sandals.
Example 3: We went to the shoe store; I bought sandals.
Example 4: The small locomotive car, Number 4, came clanking, stumbling down from Selston with seven full wagons.
Takeaway: Make audio recordings part of your revision process.
Storytelling is how your product appeals to consumers without giving a pitch. Furniture, clothes, and automobiles all have a unique story to share. Storytelling differs from selling, as one wants to share, while the latter wants to market. Consumers have a short attention span, so try to come up with a five-second story, not a pitch, about the product.
Product: a desk with electrical outlets built into the frame
Storytelling: Forget headphones; imagine completing homework or writing your novel (finally!) with white noise coming from gently crashing of waves courtesy of the Hansen desk. Built-in electrical outlets allow you to pick ideal workspaces to ignite creativity.
Selling: The Hansen desk lets you do work from anywhere!
Takeaway: Practice creating five-second stories for products.
Creative elements are ways to make a product less assembly line. Most clients appreciate creativity as long as it isn’t “too creative”. Groupon’s copy is highly creative and does the nearly impossible job of also being funny. Once their style guide became available online, the mystery of how Groupon balances imagination and humor was solved.
Whatever can be tied to the product works if it comes across as a natural progression of thought; too much of a stretch, and it’s struck. For example, ‘Bob the Unicorn made a mad dash for Delilah’s gluten-free ice cream down a glittering rainbow,’ does not work because the association is not clear. A unicorn is not normally a match with ice cream. Squirrels would make a better choice, only if there is some sort of nut offering on the menu. Bernice the Squirrel happily waits in line for the nutty deliciousness of Delilah’s gluten-free praline ice cream.
Takeaway: Write down the most common product associations to give your imagination practical guidelines.