Copywriting – The Bastard Sister of Fiction

Okay, I should really give it justice. After all, copywriting is my bread and butter. It’s my drug of choice. It’s what keeps the lights on and allows me to buy chocolate when I want it. For almost 20 years, I’ve written copy in one fashion or another.

I like to say that I’m experienced in publishing, advertising and marketing. In reality, all three tie in rather nicely under the copywriting umbrella. In looking back on my experiences as a copywriter, I realize how much it has contributed to my fiction writing abilities. From sentence structure and editing out the “hamburger helper” words, to helping me find flow and transition from one paragraph to the next, copywriting is more than a bastard sister to my fiction… it’s the big sister.

Copywriting does not come naturally – it is learned by messing up on the job, failing to get a good result from your work and not putting your logical heart into it. Either does fiction writing, but I gather it’s easier to crank out creative n’er-do-well prose than writing to sell something. An idea? A product? A service? Sex? All of the above and more, as long as the writing is effective. With copywriting, you want to put a bug in the ear of the target audience. Selling BOTOX? Write about smooth skin with a youthful appearance. How about oral surgery services? Tell the audience about the surgeon’s experience, success rate and quick healing times. Got concrete? Tell ’em how hard it sets.

Ahem. You get the picture. In spite of the pressure to perform, writing copy can be fun. It’s like a game of wits to see who can take over the mind and sway the soul. Not quite sales, copywriting is subtle because it appeals to a want, a need and a desire. There are a million reasons to purchase something – finding out what the benefits of that purchase are and writing to that is my job.

These days, I find myself writing more copy than fiction. While I gripe about this, and yearn for my characters and dream of sharing my young adult fiction with all of you (and I will), I look forward to copywriting assignments and the end results – happy clients selling more of what they’ve got because somehow I influenced their target audience. And having influence is what writing is all about, whether it’s copywriting or fiction.



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