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How to make your audience salivate over every word of your copy

A bunch of months ago, the great Jim Clair recommended a book by one Raymond Chandler, an author from the early 19th century. Jim’s given me a bunch of good fiction recommendations over the years like Stephen King’s Dark Tower Series and Robert Galbraith’s PI books. Chandler’s books also follow a PI, Phillip Marlowe. 


Even though I’m still in the “green” pages of The Big Sleep (Chandler’s first published book, which he published at the ripe age of fifty-one, in case you were feeling old) Marlowe is an absolute hoot. He comes across the page so masculine, so anti-needy, and so direct that it’s a breath of fresh air, especially because of the contrast between this and the last fiction book I read: A Clockwork Orange. 


I already know Mr. Marlowe will become email fodder for your Humble Narrator. And even though I’m only fifty-some pages into this book, I can see why Jim Clair loves Chandler’s writing so much. In fact, if you read Jim’s writing, you can see how much influence Chandler had on him. 


LIke Marlowe, Chandler’s style is direct. Masculine. Naturally intriguing. 


It reminds me quite a bit of English professor William Strunk Jr’s The Elements of Style book, where he rails against wordiness. A problem most copywriters I know run full speed into. 


But besides being punctual and direct, Chandler also gives his readers a masterclass in how to write visual copy. His skill of wielding similes and metaphors to invite the reader into the world he’s creating is expert level. But he also keeps these figures of speech simple and easy to grasp: Something that takes more skill than you’d think. 


I jotted down this line in my phone after reading it: 


“I let my breath out so slowly that it hung on my lip.” 


If that doesn’t invite you, head first, into the world Marlowe sees, I don’t know what will. 


Now, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with copy or even with being more visual in your writing. 


The truth is, there’s no easy tip for writing visually. Sure, there are some verbs you’d choose over others. And some figures of speeches you can equip—like similes and metaphors and analogies—to spruce up your copy. 


But if you want to master visual writing, you need to practice. And outside of building a habit of writing frequently, one way to passively learn how to write visually is by reading Chandler. 


But why should you study visual writing? 


Isn’t it something that’s best left for fiction authors and screenwriters? 


No.


When you can write copy that lures in your audience like a fiction author lures their reader to the next chapter with a cliffhanger, then, well, methinks (and meknows) that you’ll see your revenue tick up and up and up. 


And if you need help being more visual in your email copy, hit reply, and let’s set up a quick chat. 


John

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