3 Reasons Why Reading Short Stories Will Make You A Better Copywriter.

A short story is exactly what it calls itself, a short story.

Whether it’s the size of a newspaper column or a few pages of a hardcover book with a few twists and turns or attempts at suspense, a short story has to be short, precise, engaging from end to end and with a clear message.

Think of Aesop’s Fables and well done music videos.

Copywriters are taught to engage a reader from the headline (a block of words/sentences) up to the lead (a block of paragraphs) and down to the rest of the copy (a block of different things). A short story engages you from the first word.

Because you don’t want to lose your reader at any time. Unless you’re selling what they don’t need or they are just about to reach for their bank cards to buy what you’re selling. This means you have to engage them from beginning to end.

Hard stuff, I know.

So, instead of rambling like the keynote speaker at a bankers’ conference, a short story approach keeps your copy light and tight.

It also teaches the efficient use of characters.

Unlike in dramas and movies, we see lots of extras. And aside from battles and scenes requiring a gathering of people, most of them are people who add little or nothing to the overall story. In essence, the story can do without them.

One of the short story’s strongest powers is minimalism in characters, both in selection and usage.

A good short story writer asks some of the following questions: Do I need this character? What’s he doing in here? How does she add to the story?

And if the answers don’t make sense, the characters are put to death. Sometimes their deaths (ie if they are killed in the story) eventually become opportunities to make the story richer.

This same ruthlessness should show in your copy.

It’s unnecessary having loose ends scattered throughout your work.

You’re not making a series, franchise instalment or documentary, so why bring a character into your story arc or a sentence or paragraph into your marketing argument which does nothing except occupy space?

This isn’t physics, but it’s helpful you know these things matter.

I read a short story last night, Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

And it might have taken just 5 minutes to but while reading it you had a sense every single line was open to another meaning. The entire story had my brain firing.

In the same way, your copy should have the feel of a Molotov cocktail. In the sense, they set your customers ablaze on impact.

I also loved the story and chances are I’ll read it again in future.

This is why in order to avoid buyer’s remorse which might turn into refunds or kill any opportunity for repeat purchases or upselling , your copy should let the customer feel like they made the purchase decision themselves, not like you forced them to.

What do you think?

Uche Okoro

Writer. Sales & Marketing. Business & Investing Afficionado.

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