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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Word Spritz

I want to be a writer for Bath and Body Works. Have you noticed they've taken description for their scents from the garden variety "let the sweet, juicy scent of Mango Mandarin give your spirits a lift" to "Sweet wild honeysuckle dance in spring rain. Soft. Airy. Alluring." Poetry and enough fru-fru juice to cloud even the most potent body odor.

Somehow, in the land of BBW, flowers are capable of a minuet, taking on weighty verbs of their own and fruits couldn't own any more action tags unless you placed them under your arm and squeezed. Does any woman read this when deciding to purchase a scent? Helpful online maybe, but in the store, I doubt anyone is swept away by the descriptive Harlequin-esque prose.

Along the same lines, have you seen the commercial for the new "5" gum? At the beginning an announcer states, "Want to know what it feels like to chew the new "5" gum?" Okay, how hard is that, really, to experience the sensation a piece of gum gives you when you put it in your mouth by watching television? Almost impossible, right? So the actress drops into a wind tunnel, burglar-skydiving-style, while thousands of wind-generating heat lamps keep her suspended by their air current. Perfect example of show, don't tell.

To have to write tight enough to convey the entire essence of a product in a few, sometimes less, words is a talent we should all aspire to. Every word on the page should impact the reader in some way. Every adjective a subtle nuance to the emotional state of the POV character. Every verb a shade of universal truth we've all shared. Writers have the power to manipulate the story world for the reader, just as the marketing writers manipulate us into purchasing their products. Consumers of body lotion are buying into an experience as much as our readers.

Make sure every spritz of language leaves a lasting impact.

1 comment:

Sandra Ferguson said...

All right, I want to know what the scary decision is regarding your writing. Either tell, or I'll just keep posting all over the web until you do. *GRIN*

As for tight writing, I wrote greeting cards for awhile. More an exercise than anything else, since I didn't sell any. However, it was a great practice for tight writing so that made it all worthwhile.