Get Shorty is a 1990 book by Elmore Leonard about a Miami mobster that becomes a Hollywood film producer. The word ‘shorty’ is slang for a beginner.
At a recent creative industry event, I was asked by someone just staring out as a copywriter, whether I prefer writing long- or short-form copy.
Most copywriters have to be able to write both. I do. And for me, short is more fun.
It takes longer because getting a big message ‘out there’ with just a few words needs craft.
At some point, every client needs short copy. To keep audiences’ attention, they have to get to the point—fast.
Here are a few tips I shared with my new friend for getting short copy right.
· Get to know who you’re talking to. Each audience understands a different language and tone.
· Think ‘digestible’. Limit your sentences to 12 words, and paragraphs to three sentences.
· Cut the crap. Jargon has its place, but use it sparingly and replace some of it with simpler words.
· Reduce, reduce, reduce. Keep your copy tight. As George Orwell said, “If it’s possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.”
· Get ‘in the now’ with an active voice. Passive sentences are longer and feel less urgent.
· Use the Hemingway app. It shows how to keep your copy simple and where to trim fat.
Got some tips for writing great short-form copy?
Why not share them here?