During a previous post we began a study of the Dullest Blog In The World, using the dull copy as an example of what not to do when writing for the web. We continue with the 3rd and final element of dull copy.
Dull Element #3 – Colorless Verbs and Nouns
Let’s take a look at a post from November 14, 2003…
Tying my shoelace
The lace on one of my shoes was undone. I knelt down, took the two ends of the lace in my hand and tied them together. Having tied my lace I stood up again.
Not a trace of anything with color or personality here. Several verbs here, several nouns and not a single one adds life or association to the post. A quick rewrite will show you how to add a little life to a dull topic with just a sprinkle of unpredictability.
The lace on my shoe was unlooped. Kneeling down, I grasped the ends of each lace in my hands and twisted, tied, and tightened them. Mission accomplished, I stood.
This rewrite is a little better but no work of art, you must understand that even the best writing won’t help when your content is weak and irrelevant. What I am hoping to demonstrate is how using less preditible verbs and nouns in your copy can make a difference. Even the most ‘professional’ of products and services can be made to sound colorful, powerful and trustworthy using unpredictable verbs and nouns that bring associative meaning to your copy.
You will notice that I did not mention anything about colorful adjectives. Overused and flowery adjectives are the favored tools of an amateur.
Let’s take a gander at a great before and after example
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Another example of un-dull copy is the X-Arcade 2-Player, notice how the lifetime warranty section, a topic usually written in legal speak, is infused with life and attitude.
And lastly, Librarians may seem dull to some, but well written copy can make them action heroes.