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Tuesday 10th December 2013 /
Like any happy marriage, strong business relationships are all about good communication – from websites to ads, leaflets to tweets. So how can you make sure your writing engages your audience – and keeps them hooked?
Your choice of headline or subject line is hugely important. It should grab your reader's attention – and draw them in. All most people really want to know is: “what’s in it for me?” So tempt them with the benefits, be original and intrguing, and don't give away too much.
Break-up your copy
A mass of text can be a big turn-off. Many people won’t bother to read everything and will simply scan the text for interesting and relevant information – particularly when reading online copy – so the important messages really need to stand out.
Break up your copy with bullet points, sub headings or box-outs to get across the key points with clarity.
It's an old DM trick – and a classic on the speed-dating circuit – but questions help build relationships with your reader, involving them in your copy and encouraging them to read on.
Mix it up
Keep your writing interesting by varying the length of sentences. From short and punchy. To longer and more detailed. This will change the pace of the piece and make for a more enjoyable read.
Go with the flow
Effective writing flows from one idea to the next – so make sure a consistent theme runs through each communication. Your copy should follow a coherent argument from start though to middle and end. A concluding paragraph, which sums up the main points, can also be useful.
Use of the Royal ‘we’ is a bone of contention. When is it OK to use ‘we’ instead of ‘I’? And can you ever really get away with it if you’re a commoner?
The Royal ‘we’, also know as the Victorian ‘we’ and the majestic plural (or pluralis majestatis) describes the way a person, usually a monarch, may use a plural personal pronoun to refer to him or herself. For example, “we are going to have a bath” rather than “I am going to have a bath”.
As the name suggests, it’s generally Kings and Queens who use the Royal ‘we’. Perhaps the most famous example of this is Queen Victoria’s utterance “We are not amused” – her reaction, according to Sir Arthur Helps, to his telling of a joke to the ladies in waiting at a royal dinner party. A common explanation for this usage is that a ruler speaks both as an individual (‘I’) but also as a representative of the people (‘we’).
Use of the Royal ‘we’ is known as a nosism. However, nosisms by people other than the Royals have often been criticised. In 1989, Margaret Thatcher was subject to ridicule when she announced, “We have become a grandmother.”
US Navy Admiral, Hyman G Rickover, famously told a subordinate who used the Royal ‘we’: "Three groups are permitted that usage: pregnant women, royalty, and schizophrenics. Which one are you?"
Another remark of this kind is often attributed – although probably wrongly – to Mark Twain: "Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial 'we.'"
Nowadays, use of the Royal ‘we’ in speech is normally confined to period dramas. Some suggest it has fallen into disuse because monarchies are simply not invested with as much power as before.
However, the Royal ‘we’ is still often used in writing – particularly in newspaper editorials – as a way of demonstrating inclusivity. By using ‘we’ writers seek to create a bond of empathy or common understanding with the reader. Similarly, teachers often use the Royal ‘we’ to establish a rapport with students: “as we shall see”.
However, using ‘we’ in this way can often backfire. It can come across as pedantic or condescending – and, at worst, it recalls the way some caregivers talk to the very young and very old: “How are we feeling today?”
So, while using the Royal ‘we’ in speech and writing can be effective, perhaps it’s best to leave it to the monarchy – and Colin Firth.
First came the royal engagement. Ten days later came the book. It’s one of many to detail Prince William's engagement to Kate Middleton including, bizarrely, a graphic novel.
It took Leo Tolstoy seven years to write War and Peace but the Sun’s royal correspondent, James Clench, finished William and Kate: A Royal Love Story in 48 hours. It hit bookshops on 26th November 2010, just ten days after Will and Kate announced their engagement. ‘Insta-books’ like this are becoming increasingly popular, as publishers race to be the first to cover big current events.
Several more titles have followed suit in the lead-up to the Royal wedding. These include William and Kate: Celebrating a Royal Engagement by Robin Nunn; William and Kate: The Love Story by Christopher Andersen; and William and Catherine by celebrity journalist Andrew Morton, who wrote the controversial 1992 book Diana: Her True Story.
The royal romance has even been chronicled in a graphic novel, Kate and William: A Very Public Love Story. The book was written by Rich Johnston, who conducted extensive research on the couple – even discovering their pet names for each other. He claims that William calls her “Babycakes” and Kate calls him "Big Willy".
The graphic novel comes in two parts, each with its own distinct style. The first is William's life story, drawn in an artistic style that echoes the all-action comic heroes of the 1950s. It follows the prince (or ‘William Wales’ as his friends call him) from the rugby pitches of Eton to his adventures in the Royal Air Force.
The second part, told from Kate's perspective, is based on popular romantic comics for schoolgirls. Cheeky fictional diary entries imagine her as a love-struck student who later has to come to terms with being a future king's girlfriend.
"There's always been a tradition in this country with comics for girls in which the girl dreams of meeting someone famous and falling in love," says illustrator Mike Collins "In this case, this is what's happened and it's for real."
The 60-page comic ends with the pair kissing on their wedding day. After all, everybody likes a happy ending.