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Great Copywriting in Action: Star Wars Isn't Just For Geeks
Posted on August 24th 2014
According to Filmsite.com, Star Wars (specifically The Empire Strikes Back film) is ranked #1 in the 100 Greatest Films of All Time list. The series really is iconic. Regardless of whether you’re a sci-fi geek, a science fiction nerd, or a not-so-big fan of intergalactic fiction, you know exactly what we’re talking about when you see the title Star Wars. Immediately, you think of Luke Skywalker and the never to be forgotten line, “Luke, I am your father!” But Star Wars isn’t just for geeks. It can teach us a few equally memorable lessons about great copywriting in action.
Script Writing in the World of Copywriting
We don’t often chat about script writing in the copywriting world, and I’ve often wondered why. Script writing is one of the biggest and fastest growing niches of content marketing, but people in need of scripts don’t initially think of hiring a copywriter for the job.
In today’s fast-paced world, people don’t always have time to read. Let’s be honest, just between us writers, even we run out of time to read to replenish our creativity. There is a huge market for copywriters who can write short video and podcast scripts. And the lessons gleaned from The Empire Strikes Back movie script can serve as a compass for script and general copywriting:
- Taglines are important. The little things mean the most. The Empire Strikes Back drives this point home with the simple fact that everybody and their Uncle knows one epic line from the movie, “Luke, I am your father!” Even if you’ve never seen the film, you know that line. You know it’s famous. It’s impressionable. It’s sharable. It’s the definition of jaw dropping. When it comes to copywriting, even the little things—like taglines and social media shout outs—are important. These seemingly tiny aspects of copy can pack a punch, generating an impression and connotation that can span any distance of time or space.
- People aren’t dumb. I remember watching an interview conducted with Richard Dean Anderson, back when he was actively portraying Colonel Jack O’Neill on the insanely popular Stargate SG-1 television series. He made a comment that stuck with me as a writer, and applies to our Star Wars discussion. To paraphrase, he thought that to “dumb it down” for the audience was absurd and insulting; people are smarter than they’re given credit for. According to FilmSite, The Empire Strikes Back had one of the most complex plotlines of the entire Star Wars saga. This proves an important point that we can carry over to copywriting: people aren’t dumb. They can’t handle complex. In fact, they’ll likely eat it up. Audiences crave sophisticated, meaty material. Don’t be afraid to create it!
- Shock and awe are powerful tools. It’s easy for copy to grow dry. When we set off to write creative fiction, we weave a plot with calculated shock and awe factors because that’s fiction. But this same approach is viable in the copy and script writing venue. Storytelling that shocks and awes the audience demands attention. It’s also the stuff shares and re-shares are made of. Don’t feel like the tools of shock and awe are limited to video, films, and television. On the contrary, we can build these aspects of writing into every piece of copy. The result will be a gripping sensation, a “must read more” tug that will keep the reader firmly planted on the landing page, blog, press release, or video display.
- Cliffhangers aren’t just for the big screen. One of the most appealing aspects of The Empire Strikes Back was the unresolved cliffhanger ending. Han Solo has been captured by a bounty hunter, and the uncertain nature of Luke Skywalker’s heritage left unanswered and ominous questions. By the end of the film, the audience sat on the edge of their seats, hungrily waiting to see what happened next. When the film ended on a cliffhanger, the immediate thought was, “When is the next episode?” Cliffhangers are viable in the copywriting world, but they’re slightly different. The idea of a cliffhanger is to make the audience hunger, even crave, what comes next. Copy, whether it be in script or website copy form, can leverage a cliffhanger ending to keep the audience poised on your website, waiting for that next “installment.” Try ending on a question or hinting at what might be coming next. Give the audience something juicy to anticipate and look forward to—this is the stuff bookmarks and subscriptions are made of!
One of the most commonly made copywriting mistakes is the neglecting of audience appeal. If there’s one thing we can take away from the Star Wars saga, it’s that audience appeal is very real and rather simple to tackle IF we focus on what the audience wants.
Photo Credit: Star Wars and Copywriting/shutterstock