Writing texts: taking the readers into account
A text is only a text when it is read. Readers have wishes that must be fulfilled. Some important wishes of readers are mentioned. A good copywriter will try to satisfy the readers’ wishes. After all, they are his guests. He must act like a good host. Anyone who wants to become a good host will undoubtedly take a step in the right direction by reading this text.
Readers are your guests
A writer should not be satisfied if he has put his thoughts on paper in a somewhat orderly (structured) way. After all, a text is only a text when it is read. The reader should not be lost sight of while writing a text, because only then will the text actually be read (in its entirety). So he will have to ask himself what his reader wants. What do you want? The author of this text thinks you:
- Want to be treated with respect
- Want to know quickly what this text has to offer
- Want to understand what is meant with little effort
This is of course not a complete list. You probably have more wishes. In any case, there are three important wishes (the wishes of many readers). A copywriter is on the right track if he knows how to fulfill those three wishes. Hopefully, the three wishes of (most likely many) readers mentioned by me make it clear that a copywriter must constantly take his (future) readers into account. The readers are his guests. He should consider himself their host. How can he be a good host? By simply fulfilling the wishes of its (future) readers as well as possible.
Treat the reader with respect
The language used by copywriters does not always show sufficient respect for the reader. Take the following text from the Central Directorate of Student Finance from 1987, intended for students:
The students are not addressed in an adult manner (the copywriter has squatted down, so to speak). They therefore feel that they are not treated with respect. This communication can also be worded respectfully:
Clarify what the text has to offer
A reader drops out if it is not clear what the text has to offer. The author of the following text has paid attention to his language, sentence structure and formulation, but it is completely unclear what he has to offer the reader. The writer apparently did not think about his future readers while writing the text:
Readers are completely unaware of what this text has to offer. What’s the subject? Readers who do not know what a text has to offer quickly drop out. After all, reading further makes no sense. Fortunately, it can also be done differently. The writer of the following text makes it immediately clear what the subject of his text is:
It is immediately clear to the reader of this text what this text has to offer. He knows what the topic is and which aspects of the topic are discussed. He can therefore immediately determine whether it makes sense to continue reading (depending on his interest).
Understand what is meant with little effort
A good copywriter does not make things unnecessarily difficult for his readers. Unfortunately, this rule is not infrequently violated. A text can:
- Are difficult to write
- Be vaguely worded
- Be elaborately formulated
- Being too boring
- Being carefree
Even now, a copywriter will have to behave like a good host. He should avoid making a lot of effort for the reader to understand what it says. He will not have to write texts that are difficult to read. This does not mean that he should never use difficult words, always formulate succinctly, always formulate exactly and only write fascinating texts. Writing advice is guidelines, not laws. When applied properly, the guidelines are a good resource for writers.
Not everyone can formulate as concisely as Willem Elsschot in his story The disappointment:
Fortunately, not everyone can write as vaguely as the author of the following text:
This text, about traffic jams, can be rewritten with great difficulty. However, a copywriter would be better off saving that effort and pushing the delete button on his laptop.
Thinking of your readers
A copywriter wants his text to be read. It is therefore necessary to form an idea of the (intended) readers. Copywriters must constantly consider the wishes of their readers. Then their texts are actually read. Readers will not drop out prematurely. Anyone who wants to be extensively informed about clear and catchy writing will undoubtedly find sufficient information in the bookstore or library. The text fragments in this text are only intended to illustrate my statement that the lyricist should write all his texts with the question whether he is doing the reader a service in the back of his mind. Naturally, this also applies to this text.