There are lots of people claiming that they can teach you to write well. Then it turns out the only advice they have to share is
1 Write short sentences.
2 Use Plain English.
3 Think about your reader.
(Often the only actual writing they do is the promotional copy for their own courses. Go figure.)
In fact, the way to influence people – individually and en masse – is with a whole raft of techniques that have nothing to do with “business writing” or the people who run those courses.
I’m talking about ancient techniques such as storytelling, oratory and writing to give people pure pleasure.
Think about great orators Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Winston Churchill or JFK.
Or fantastic authors like Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, George Orwell, JK Rowling or Stephen King.
Did they use “short words and sentences”?
Did they obsess about the number of times they said “I” versus “you”?
Did they keep their words shorn of metaphors, alliteration and emotive language?
Of course not!
And what happened?
Millions of people listened, rapt. Often in blazing sun, hatless.
Millions paid money to read their stories. Queueing round the block for the next instalment.
Millions marched, either in protest against injustice, or to war.
And guess what?
You CAN learn how they did it.
Together with my partner, a leading advertising copywriter, I am running a one-day workshop in London at the end of March.
First and foremost we are working writers. It’s our main source of income.
So when we say something works, it’s not because we read it in a book written by somebody else.
We do it. Every day. For clients around the world.