I cam across these classics from Tim Delaney today. I was reminded of a truth:
Only about 2% of the general public will ever read your body copy. (If you’re lucky.)
But over 98% of creative directors will read your body copy when you’re interviewing for a job.
Creative directors want writers who can write.
So if you’re a writer, use your book to prove it.
This past quarter, I taught a storytelling class at Miami Ad School with some really talented, enthusiastic first-quarter writers. Here’s a list of some of the source materials I used as examples and sometimes just stole from to make myself sound like I knew what I was talking about:
On Teaching and Writing Fiction by Wallace Stegner
On Writing by Stephen King
The Comic Toolbox by John Vorhaus
Improv Wisdom by Patricia Madson
Building Believable Characters by Marc McCutcheon
The Moth Stories
This video from J.J. Abrams.
Various lists, such as this one by Elmore Leonard and this one by John Steinbeck
Writing samples from writers much better than myself, including Edward Abbey, James Agee, Sherwood Anderson, Donald Antrim, Roberto Bolaño, Richard Brautigan, Jon Clinch, Mark Costello, Patrick deWitt, A.M. Homes, Dan Kennedy, Chip Kidd, J Robert Lennon, Cormac McCarthy, David Mitchell, Tim O’Brien, Helen Oyeyemi, J.D. Salinger, Jim Shepard, Hunter S. Thompson and David Foster Wallace.
Generally speaking, taglines aren’t necessary. Luke Sullivan says, unless you can write a “Just Do It,” just don’t.
But here are two reasons portfolio students should practice taglines:
1. You’re going to have clients who ask for them.
2. Taglines are just one more way to showcase how you think.
When I’m asked to write a tagline, I sometimes begin by asking myself, “What is this? And what does it do?”
The ultimate driving machine.
The king of beers.
The antidote for civilization.
Nothing runs like a Deere.
It gives you wings.
That was easy.
Think outside the bun.
It’s everywhere you want to be.
Just a few examples of good tags that answer the simple questions, “What is this? And what does it do?”
His blood smells like cologne.
He can speak French in Russian.
He’s a lover not a fighter. But he’s also a fighter, so don’t get any ideas.
He is the only man ever known to ace a Rorschach test.
If you were on this account, what kind of lines would you write?
It’s a good exercise. In fact, I keep a document on my desktop where I write my own lines for him. Just for fun.
Am I going to send them to Euro RSCG? Nope. They wouldn’t bother looking at them.
So why do I write them?
Because I’m a writer. And any writing I do makes me better. I don’t have to use what I write for the act of writing to be useful.
So here’s an open challenge: What would be your Most Interesting Man in the World lines?
Sometimes it’s nice when an art director can write. Sometimes it’s nice when a writer can draw. A lot of writers can draw. Not all, but some.
If you’re a writer, and you’ve ever doodled anything, good or bad, please consider submitting it to Illustrated by Copywriters. It’s a little side project I’m working on.