November 19, 2017

Readers see ‘white horse,’ not ‘absolute truth’

Make messages memorable with concrete copy

Write “juicy hot dog,” and your readers may see a frankfurter nestled in a bun, slathered with mustard and onions. They may even taste it.

Make messages memorable with concrete copy

Hold that thought Concrete phrases like ‘white horse’ are more memorable than abstract ones like ‘basic theory.’ Image by Trevor Paterson

This “dual coding” — where your brain processes not only the words, but the sensual experience of the object the words describe — is one reason concrete copy is so powerful.

But does concrete copy — copy that shows instead of tells, that describes objects instead of ideas — help people remember messages better than abstract ones?

Researchers at the University of Western Ontario aimed to find out. So they read study participants a series of concrete and abstract adjectives and nouns, then combined them into concrete and abstract phrases:

Tap the Vividness Effect

Related stories

“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader — not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”
— E.L. Doctorow, author of Ragtime and other critically acclaimed novels

Color Them Fascinated

Rivet readers with juicy details

Fun facts and juicy details might seem like the Cheez Doodles and Cronuts of communication: tempting, for sure, but a little childish and not particularly good for you.

Master the Art of the Storyteller

Cool and colorful Learn how to reach readers through vivid messages. Image by Kaizen Nguyễn

Not so. Concrete details are more like salad dressing and aioli — the secret sauces it takes to get the nutritious stuff down.

Call it “The Vividness Effect.” It’s been proven in the lab again and again: Colorful details communicate better than dry, abstract information.

At Master the Art of the Storyteller — our two-day creative-writing master class on Sept. 25-26 in New York — you’ll learn how to rivet readers with juicy details.

Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Show and tell: Help readers understand your big ideas by way of your specific details.
  • Play it SAFE: Six ways to add color to your message.
  • Write like a roller coaster: Are you losing them in the middle? Test your message so you can spot and fix the boring parts.
  • Write to be read: Where to sprinkle “gold coins” throughout your message to keep readers engaged.
  • Go from blah to brilliant in 15 minutes or less: Quick ways to add concrete detail to even the most tedious topics.

This is our final Master the Art of the Storyteller workshop for 2017. Don’t miss out. Register now.

Save $100 when you register by Aug. 25.

“I am a better writer today than I was two days ago.”
— Chelsea Didde Rice, communications specialist, Ascend Learning

Polish your skills at these Master Classes

Learn to Master the Art of the Storyteller, Catch Your Readers, Get Clicked, Cut Through the Clutter and more

Register for Master the Art of the Storyteller in New York: Ann Wylie’s creative-writing workshop in New York on Sept. 25-26, 2017

New York | Sept. 25-26

Register for Catch Your Readers in Kansas City: Ann Wylie’s persuasive-writing workshop in Kansas City on Nov. 16-17, 2017

Kansas City | Nov. 16-17

Register for Write For The Web and Mobile: Ann Wylie’s online-writing workshop in Miami on Dec. 11-12, 2017

Miami | Dec. 11-12

Rather bring Ann in to train your whole team?

Catch Ann on the road

Save when you book a workshop while I’m in your neighborhood

Ask about piggybacking on my upcoming engagements in:

  • Atlanta: Sept. 11-12
  • Boston: Oct. 9
  • Chicago: Nov. 13
  • Kansas City: Nov. 16-17
  • Memphis: Nov. 2
  • Miami: Dec. 11-12
  • New York: Sept. 25-26
  • Dallas: Oct. 16-20
  • Roseville, CA: Oct. 24

Keep up with my calendar.

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