On this day in 1564, William Shakespeare was born. The great English dramatist and poet wrote 38 plays throughout his short lifetime that have been worldwide specimens of learning into present day, nearly 400 years later. Why is this? In a million words written over 20 years, he captured the full range of human emotions and conflicts with a precision that remains sharp today. As his great contemporary the poet and dramatist Ben Jonson said, “He was not of an age, but for all time.”
So what can we learn from the great Shakespeare? Take these seven clues from his timeless writing style:
1) Be happy. An upbeat tone and positive connotations make text more pleasant for the reader. Avoid negative or condescending tones in your writing.
2) Traditional isn’t always best. Though formal writing has its place, taking a less-traditional approach and writing in a more conversational style keeps your reader on the page longer. Avoid the drone.
3) Iambic Pentameter? Not quite. Shakespeare wrote some of his plays in iambic pentameter, a form that suggested only 10 syllables per line of text. Though this poetic form is probably not the way you want to write your news releases or blogs, this form stresses clarity and brevity – both of which you should have in your written works. Keeping it short and easy to understand increases the likelihood that your reader will keep reading, and get the point.
4) Lose the predictability. You got some great reads on your last news release — great. But how to you get those people (and more) to read your next works of art? Mix your formats up (without losing sight of important info), use different logos/photos, and incorporate video where you can to keep your writing fresh and new.
5) Create new angles to serve audiences better. Shakespeare reshaped each plot to create several points of interest and show as many sides of a narrative to the audience as possible. This is the same reason you should keep your differing audiences in mind when writing your news releases and creating angles not thought of before to target the media and your readers.
6) Be real. Shakespeare captured the full range of human emotions within his writings, as should you. If you’re supporting a cause, your passion should come across in your writings. If you’re about to launch a phenomenal new product for your company, your writing should portray how revolutionary it might be and its positive implications for the public.
7) Be accurate. Do I really have to explain this one?
All the world’s a stage, just waiting to devour your content. To be or not to be an effective writer is your only challenge. What are some interesting writing styles you’ve seen that attracted you to keep reading? Let me know in the comments section below.
(Photo Credit – Flickr Creative Commons: ell brown)