I like to read books about writing. It’s always interesting to understand how other writers approach their profession, and the best books offer more than just platitudes on how hard it is to write.
Roger Horberry’s ‘Sounds Good on Paper: How to Bring Business Language to Life‘ is a very easy-to-read book on figures of speech and how they can be used in business writing.
Most of the book introduces a variety of figures of speech, explains their origin, provides examples, and then explains how they could be used to brighten up your business writing.
The very final part of the book gives some general advice on using rhetorical devices to make business writing pop.
Persuasion techniques to use in your copywriting
The ancients knew what they were doing and copywriters have plenty to learn from them. Here are three techniques you should be using.
Ethos – the way you present yourself to the reader in the text
Pathos – making an appeal to your audience’s feeling
Logos – using logic, or, convincing the reader with the strength of your ideas (but, Roger stresses, neglect the emotional at your peril!)
Seven rhetorical techniques to use in your copywriting:
1 – Repetition – multiple instances of a particular word or phrase to underscore a particular point
2 – Reversal – a combination of mirror-image elements within a single phrase
3 – Contrasts – ‘not this but that’ or ‘this but not that or ‘more this than that’ or ‘opposites’ or ‘phrase reversal’
4 – Rhetorical question – invites the reader to anticipate an answer
5 – The group of three – completeness without becoming a list
6 – Involvement – invites the reader to complete the meaning of what they’ve just read
7 – Ambiguity – creates a sense of doubt or uncertainty (that you might then resolve in text or imagery)
A great quote from Roger that I must include here:
“The more high quality raw material you expose yourself to, the greater your chances of eloquence. So find some writers whose work you admire and read, read, read.”
Final word: If you care about the craft of copywriting, this is an easy book to recommend.