A Critical Skill for Every Writer

by W. Terry Whalin

With the ease of cranking words into a computer, it's easy to get lulled into the idea that anyone can be a writer. Yet the specific words you write are important. Which words are you selecting when you write and are you using the right combination?

Whether you are writing a children's book or a novel or nonfiction or a personal experience magazine article, your word choice is critical. How do you learn this skill? You will use it in many aspects of the work—from the title for your book or the headline for your article. Or the words on the back cover of your book which helps a reader know if they should purchase your book or press on to the next one.

In the writing business, creating words which sell is called copy and the specific skill is called copywriting. The good news is you can learn this skill as a writer. 

First, you need to be aware your word choice is important and can drive sales. Years ago as a young journalist, I learned the power of writing great headlines to draw readers. When you write a headline or the words on a website, what is drawing readers? Be aware of the response. Do people click your button and buy your material or do they breeze past it? Awareness is a critical step.

Second, practice. When you write a blog post or a magazine article or a book proposal or a book manuscript. Think carefully about the title or headline. Are you telling a story that pulls the reader into your writing? What are the words doing and are they achieving what you want? This type of internal analysis will help you be more deliberate about your word selection.

Third, there are skilled teachers who teach copywriting. One of the best in this area is Ray Edwards. Recently Edwards has published a new book, How to Write Copy That Sells. The book is less than 160 pages and covers key topics like headlines, emails, bullet points, irresistable offers, secrets of product launches and much more. Each chapter begins with an inspirational quote. Here's how chapter four begins, “Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.” — Leo Burnett

As an acquisitions editor, I read a great deal of unpublished pitches and manuscripts. Some writers have learned their words have power and they pull me into their manuscripts. Others lack this critical storytelling skill. If you learn this skill, it will increase your sales potential. It doesn't matter what you are writing at the end of the day you are selling something. The sooner you can learn this skill, the sooner your writing will be published and sell.


Do you have this critical skill for every writer? Learn About It Here. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He is always looking for good books to publish and his email address is in his twitter profile. He has written more than 60 books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and for more than 50 magazines.


Karen Cioffi said...

Terry, great information. Writers definitely have to test what's working and what' not. The Ray Edwards book looks interesting. I have books by Michael Masterson and Joe Vitale. It all boils down to word choice.

Terry Whalin said...

Karen, thank you for the feedback. Word choice is something many writers forget about the importance so I was glad to call attention to it.

Anne Duguid Knol said...

Love your idea of a tweetable. Hope we'll see it in the dictionary one day :-) Such a difficult skill to master if we ever do. Have the Ray Edwards on my digital bookshelf. So much to learn...Thanks, Terry.

Terry Whalin said...

Anne, thank you for this comment and the feedback. It was only recently I learned how to do a tweetable. I'm always learning something new and applying it to my blogging and writing life.


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