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5 Ways to Write Effective Sentences
Posted on January 13th 2014
"No sentence can be effective if it contains facts alone. It must also contain emotion, image, logic, and promise." –Eugene Schwartz
My favorite Ernest Hemingway short story is literally six words long: "For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never Worn." Beyond what his own interpretation of that story was, we all have a different one when we read it, a different version of what those words mean to each and every one one of us. Those words are so powerful when linked together that the end result commands your attention.
That's what an effective sentence does, grabs your audience's attention with just a handful of copy. Knowing how to handle that copy is what makes the difference between good copy and effective copy...and, let's face it, copywriters absolutely need to write effective copy in order to keep their jobs (am I right?).
If you're a copywriter and you don't subscribe to Copyblogger, you're missing out. There's so much good content over there - which is where I learned these important tidbits about writing effective sentences.
1. Insert Facts
Who, what, where, why, when, and how. Be specific, be concrete, and - most of all - be correct.
2. Create Images
In creative writing, we're supposed to show - not tell. The same goes for copywriting. Don't over explain; instead, let the reader use his or her imagination and intelligence.
3. Evoke Emotion
What are your customer's hopes? Dreams? Fears? If you know them, you can identify with your client's emotional state and therefore create content that he or she understands. Just connect.
4. Make Promises
Creative writers evoke emotion for entertainment purposes; copywriters evoke emotion in order to incite action. Compelling copy brings in the right people - they can't resist it!
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
Exercise your sentence-writing powers through opening and closing paragraphs, headlines, and even tweets. Believe it or not, being restricted to 140 characters is a good way to prove your copywriting worth.
Now It's Your Turn
Keeping all of this in mind, let's do a simple exercise. In the comments section below, leave me a fantastic, six word sentence that tells a story. Use whatever you want for inspiration, but limit yourself to just six words.
You can do it, dear reader - I have faith in you!!
To get you started, here's mine: "Thump...I was a widow...yesterday."
(baby shoes / shutterstock)