What makes writing powerful? Is it big words? Complex sentences? Short, pithy declarations?
No. Power in writing is the same as power in life. When you have it, you can get people to do what you want.
When you write content, you want your reader to follow your lead down the page and into your pipeline. You want them to trust you and your business. You want them to engage.
1. Get Their Attention—By Standing in Their View
It’s happened to us all. You’ve struggled with an issue for hours, only to realize the solution was right in front of you. Nothing could distract you from your problem—not even the solution.
This is happening to your prospects right now. You can wave your solution in front of them all day, and they will keep staring at the problem.
If you want to get their attention, start with their problem.
Imagine you have never heard of a Flux Capistor. But your time-traveling Delorean often lands in the wrong era.
Which sentence would grab your attention?
Look at the Flux Capistor 8000!
Remember the Flux Capistor means nothing to you. You’re stuck in the ’80s trying to make it to the 2014. For all you know, the Flux Capistor could clean your VCR. You don’t have time to clean your VCR. Every sentence you invest time into must promise to help you get back to your Netflix queue.
Inaccurate time-traveling Deloreans landing you in the wrong era?
2. Allow your reader a warm-up
Even if your reader should understand every complexity, give their minds a moment to settle into what you are saying. You can do this by starting simple and moving to the complex.
A torn anterior cruciate ligament or menisci would leave Daniel in need of arthoscopic surgery or long-term physical therapy. Johnny knows if he follows Kreese’s instructions the result could be either of these injuries. After receiving an illegal attack to the knee, Daniel is already severely hurt.
After receiving an illegal attack to the knee, Daniel is severely hurt. Kreese instructs Johnny to sweep the leg. Another blow to the knee could cause long-term damage. And Johnny knows it.
Johnny fears tearing Daniel’s anterior cruciate ligament or menisci. Daniel would need arthoscopic surgery or extensive physical therapy.
3. Give your reader something to imagine
When you make your subjects easy to visualize, you control what your reader sees. Persons, places, and objects work best.
Compare the following sentences:
Excellence is inspired by Bill and Ted.
Bill and Ted inspire excellence.
Not only do tangible subjects align your reader’s sights with yours, they force better sentence structure. Notice how the sentence uses the passive verb. When the subject does something, the verb is active. When something is done to the subject, the verb is passive. Because Excellence can’t do anything, so it forces a passive verb.
However, Bill and Ted are people. They can take action.
4. Guide your reader on the straightest path
After you have your reader’s attention, hold on to it by guiding them along. The best way to do that is sound as if you know the way.
A common mistake for novice writers is to overuse adversative transitional words.
Adversative transitions: however, but, yet, conversely, on the other hand
Adversative transitions are important. They tell your reader when you need to turn a corner. These corners build tension and add interest to your writing.
However, organized writers limit adversative transitions. Add in too many corners and you leave your reader behind as you zigzag down the page.
When I was 13 years old, I fell in love with Baby and Johnny. However, as an adult, I understand why Baby’s father condemned the relationship. He despised the 30-something teacher for falling in love with his teenage daughter. But as a child, I could not understand why. Johnny was a good guy.
Yet Baby’s father still put her in a corner. I wondered who would do that.
When I was 13 years old, I fell in love with Baby and Johnny. I was shocked when Baby’s father condemned the relationship. He despised the 30-something teacher for falling in love with his teenage daughter. He even put Baby in a corner. Who does that?
However, as an adult, I understand her father. My perspective on Johnny has changed.
Bonus Tip: Find memorable connections
Your buyer may be interested in your content because they love what you do or they may hate it, but still need your solutions. For instance, you might despise writing, but you know you need to get better at it to advance your marketing. So, you read writing advice. Trouble is most writing examples bore you. You sit down to write and you forget what you’ve learned.
I am betting that you can remember at least four popular shows from the 1980s. (Can you name all four?) Its easier to remember something new when you associate it with something you already know.
What’s your most powerful writing tip?
Let me know in the comments. And if you’re daring enough, give a memorable example