When I was driving home from a private lesson last night, I was bombarded by torrential rain!
And when I say ‘torrential’, I’m not using that word for effect!
Suddenly, from a humongous black cloud, came a blanket of rain, so fierce the road ahead disappeared in a flash!
All I could see in front of me was a misted up windscreen, and a dense fog like appearance beyond.
It was an incredibly frightening experience.
The next thing to frighten the bejesus out of me was when an articulated lorry flew past me at break next speed. He obviously wasn’t feeling the fear of this sudden storm.
Either that, or he had some kind of death wish…
Perhaps, high up in his cabin, and with the weight of his vehicle, this severe rain didn’t bother him in the slightest (or on his phone..)
For me, I was becoming more and more petrified…
He probably didn’t realize that as he flew past me, the back gush of wind, almost catapulted my car into the concrete barriers dividing the highway.
The rain was so hard, even on the fastest speed my wipers could go, just couldn’t cope with the huge dump of rain we were getting…
Honestly, I couldn’t see anything!!
That is very frightening, especially when you realize there are hundreds of cars around you…
But you feel like you’re in a vortex…alone…
I was on an elevated highway, and images of my car careering off the highway, onto other cars below flashed across my mind.
It was time to stop my car!
But how could I?
I was in the middle lane and couldn’t see who was to my left, so changing lanes and getting on the hard shoulder was tantamount to vehicular suicide.
This was just one extremely nerve-wracking experience, but just as frustrating is editing certain kinds of clients’ copy.
I often pick up copywriting jobs from clients who already have a website or sales copy, and want me to improve it.
I’m not a particular fan of this kind of copywriting job, because it can be extremely difficult…
Clarity and the specificity of the marketing message can be hard to decipher due to excessive use of adverbs and adjectives.
Arty farty adjectives and adverbs can kill content clarity and credibility.
Often, companies appear to have the insatiable desire to saturate their sales copy with adverbs because they think this is how to make their product stand out.
However, the issue with most adverbs is that they’re often bland and lifeless…
They give vague descriptions and distract the reader from truly knowing the benefit of that product or service.
And instead of educating your prospect, you’re in danger of boring the hell out of them.
This often kills any chance of a sale.
Your prospect will simply skim over your sales copy because you’ve created the perception that it’s loaded with boring, generic fluff.
They’ll probably never even reach your offer or the most compelling part of your Call to Action because it’s too hard to find.
You could say, deciphering your sales message can be like the experience I had driving in that torrential rain.
Except that your prospects are relying on you to provide a clear view.
Most adverbs serve no purpose but to add words to your content.
Unless they add value to your copy – cut them…
And here’s why…
Your ‘Copywriting Checklist’
In my favourite Stephen King book, ‘On Writing’, the master teaches us…
“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
You must edit every piece of sales copy you write for unnecessary adverbs and adjectives.
I keep a ‘Copywriting Checklist’ beside my computer and I run through it whenever I write any piece of copywriting.
And you bet, the adverbs and adjectives edit is included in that list.
Do you have a ‘Copywriting Checklist’?
Do you even edit your copy?
No matter what it is, a blog post, a sales page, a product review, you definitely need to get into the habit of editing your copy.
Do All Adverbs Suck?
In my writing classes I separate adverbs into two groups…
1) Adverbs to Modify Verbs
The fox ate quickly.
‘Ate’ is a verb because it describes what the fox did.
‘Quickly’ gives more information on how the fox ate, which is what an adverb does.
Most writers believe they are adding detail to how the fox ate, so they are improving their writing.
However, think about these alternatives…
The fox chomped on his food.
The fox chowed down on his catch.
The fox ate like a ravenous dog.
Don’t you think, ‘The fox ate like a ravenous dog’ describes in much more detail ‘how’ the fox ate, than ‘quickly’?
2) Adverbs to Modify Adjectives
The fox is a very angry beast.
Adjectives describe what ‘the thing’ is like, so ‘angry’ in this sentence is an adjective.
‘Very’ describes how angry the fox is, so it’s modifying the adjective ‘angry’ so, that means “very” is an adverb.
I always tell my writing students that words like ‘very’ don’t help your writing pop, so they are banned. There’s always a more descriptive way to describe what you’re trying to say.
Take a look at these alternatives…
The fox is furious…
The fox is outraged…
The fox is enraged…
Do all adverbs suck?
No, not at all.
Sometimes adverbs can describe your point with clarity.
And I’d love to give you a few examples, but the wife is revving the car, and we’re already late so unfortunately, I’ve got to dash…
Remember a thesaurus can be your friend. All writers find themselves using the same words and expressions too often.
Being aware is half the battle!
Till next time, and remind me about that ‘Copywriting Checklist’ as I want to share mine with you…
As always, please drop a comment in the box below…
Always Dedicated to Your Success,