You’ve got a funny, interesting or unique idea that you think might make a good story. But how do you go about writing that down, turning it into words that people want to read? It’s not as easy as it seems, especially when you’re not used to writing in English (or any language for that matter). That’s why I’ve put together this article. I’m going to tell you the dos and don’ts of copywriting. This will help you become a more effective writer and give your creative ideas the best shot at becoming business successes.
Know Your Audience
One of the first things you need to do before you even start writing is to know your audience. Who cares about your story, but what will they think about it? Without a clear idea of who your audience is, it can be hard to know what will resonate with them and what won’t. You can get the inside scoop on who your audience is by talking to people and finding out what they think and feel. But most importantly, you need to find out what they want!
You can use a tool like Survey Monkey to easily get this information. Simply set up a survey (they’re free) with a couple of questions about your story, and you’ll get a variety of responses from real people. This is MUCH easier and less time consuming than trying to guess what your audience wants based on your own personal experience. Plus, you’ll get to see a variety of responses that may give you an idea of what works and what doesn’t. Don’t just take my word for it, but give it a try and see how easy it is to use.
Create a Hook
A hook is a tiny little detail, something that makes your story memorable. It’s what gets people reading your copy. And believe it or not, there are specific words and structures that you can use to create a hook. Take a look at the opening of Michael Chabon’s The Final Solution:
“The streets of Auschwitz were crowded with people enjoying themselves, the way people do at carnivals. Dogs barked, children screamed, and husbands and wives, old friends and neighbors, argued jovially as they walked past. Shop owners watched the fun with satisfaction, knowing they would get their share of the profit from the misery of others.”
That’s a pretty powerful opening, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get people reading your copy. All it means is that you can find a way to make them turn the page (or press the play button on their e-reader). Most importantly, it means that there’s a little detail in there that will make your target audience remember your story.
Craft a Brief Synopsis
Even if you’ve got a really cool story and you’ve decided that it would make a good book, your writing won’t do much good unless you can get someone to actually read it. And to do that, you need to give them a reason to pick up your book vs. any other interesting book they might have on their shelf.
To craft a brief synopsis, you basically have four major scenes that you can use to explain the story. Each of these scenes should be no more than a few paragraphs. Try to keep it under two pages (double-spaced, 12-point font).
The first scene should be the setup. This is when the story starts and you establish the characters. It should be short and sweet. You don’t need to go into a lot of detail, but you should give the reader an idea of who these characters are and why they’re important to the story. If you’re super detailed, the reader might get lost.
The second scene is the aftermath. This is when the story ends. The characters should have changed, the plot should have progressed, and you should use this scene to bring the story to a close. In the aftermath scene, you can address any unresolved issues that might still be hanging around. You might even bring in a new character or two to tie up loose ends. Again, keep it short and sweet.
The third scene should be the most interesting part of the story. This is when the action starts and the story becomes more exciting. Make sure that this scene is unique to your story and doesn’t happen anywhere else. You want to keep the drama as high as possible without giving too much away. As with the setup scene, you don’t need to go into a lot of detail here, but you should try to give the reader the key pieces of information they need to follow the developments in the story. The more you put in these three scenes, the more you’ll hook your reader and make them turn the page (or click on the link to your story).
The fourth and final scene should be a summary. This is where you review everything that happened. You can use this scene to restate the major events of the story in a way that will stick out to the reader. Make sure that this scene is very short and sweet, and that it ties everything else together. For example, if you have a trilogy that focuses on a family, you might want to end the story with a line like this:
“The story ends here. Thanks for reading!”
This short and sweet summary scene will bring everything else together. Make sure that you mention any important themes or details that you want to bring up throughout the story. This summary scene can also be your book’s epilogue. In the epilogue, you can continue to elaborate on the story’s major themes or events while tying them up with the story’s original question(s). For example:
“Thanks for reading! In the coming weeks, we’ll explore the theme of family while also seeing how the conflict between the United States and Great Britain continues to play out in 2018.”
“The Coming of Love: A Family Romance”, by Lisa Renee Jones, is a perfect example of an epilogue that elaborates on the original question(s) of the story while also tying everything together.
Writing Is Always Work In Progress
The best advice I can give you is to write regularly. It might be helpful to you to set aside an hour a day, maybe even half an hour. Even if you only write for five minutes at a time, it’s still better than nothing. The more you put in, the more you’ll get out. Also, make sure you’re having fun. It’s easy for a writer to get so absorbed in their work that they forget to have fun. But if you want to be a successful writer, you can’t afford to forget about having fun. So go out there and have some experiences. Tell stories. Meet people. Enjoy life how you want to enjoy it.