A Copywriter Speaks: Hey, Give Me Back My Pen!

By: Dina Giolitto

Okay, I’m being a little dramatic. But it’s true; innumerous individuals think they don’t need my services. Guess again, friends! You need the writer. I’ve seen what happens when you give it a go on your own, and it isn’t pretty.

To my copywriting cohorts: you know who I mean. They’re the ones who keep you hunched over that keyboard, slogging away into the wee hours of the morning, only to send back a bastardized draft revision that’s rife with bad grammar, sloppy sentence structure and headlines that wouldn’t fly in an eighth
grade English essay. What’s a writer to do? Work your magic, of course! I never thought I had special powers. But maybe I do, because that’s what pandering types tell me just after they’ve grammatically raped another one of my brainchildren. Little do they know, the painstaking way in which the copywriter chooses his words!

Good copywriting carries some emotional weight; that’s what gives it substance. The challenge an advertiser faces is to harness the emotion of the audience and spur them to action. Still, people often fail to recognize there’s a distinct method to the madness. They tamper with your creation; they muck up your words; they carelessly trod upon your masterpiece! You protest, gently, but still they always win. Why? You can’t prove them wrong.

You can only barrage them with more words. See how confusing it becomes?

In writing, there are two partners at play; emotion, and logic. Emotion is the silly-putty of communication; logic is that little plastic container you keep it in. I’ll say it another way: word choice and sentence structure. The problem is such: there is no tangible way to defend your emotional method of persuasion (or word choice), and as the language continues to evolve, logic (or sentence structure) is also going out the window.

As the most subjective of subjects, language leaves room for misinterpretation. Bad writing is like driving a car on an empty tank of gas, in the complete wrong direction. Without a solid vocabulary, one can’t harness the language. If one lacks the sense of what to say when, where, and to whom, to produce a desired response; someone, somewhere, will be laughing. That someone might be me.

A strategic writer organizes carefully. This is where all that stuff you learned in fourth grade English class comes in. That old schoolmarm wasn’t drawing sentence diagrams on the board to torture you. She was trying to show you that words take different forms depending on their logical function within a sentence. This is how we employ order and organization to make meaning understood. “He’s so dumb he can’t even form a sentence." Hey, many people of above-average intelligence really can’t form a sentence! It’s one of the reasons people hire professional writers.

Someone might see something like poorly written web copy and think, "That don’t impress me much" (because today, poor grammar even finds its way into song titles). And maybe they won’t know why they’re not impressed... but I’ll know! It will be due to flagrant disregard for the English language, and
outright disrespect for the poetry in motion that is good advertising.

If you’re an accomplished writer, then God bless! Fight the good fight, little soldier, for I’m backing you all the way. If you’re a destroyer of quality writing: do us humble wordsmiths a favor and back away from the pen. We love to hear you talk, we really do! Your expertise make us who we are because you confirm what we say. You’re the proof in our pudding; our real, live reference book! We love to listen and learn from you, and we love to pass your information along. We won’t take your credit. We promise! I’m your copy cosmetician, and I’m here to make you look beautiful.

Now, please - just give me back my pen!

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