Creating words with deep meaning is the aspiration of every copywriter. Such depth of meaning should be the objective when we craft content of all sorts. This includes audio ad scripts and other forms of advertising, amongst other things. Throughout this article we will articulate the basic tenets of great writing and powerful language.
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This post has been updated in October 2021.
Words with Deep Meaning in Advertising?
When talking about audio ads and copywriting, we often think that we should aspire only to be ‘commercial’. In a sense, one of the most deeply ingrained instincts in a neophyte copywriter is believing that advertising cannot have depth. There is no room for art in advertising, some say, it is all a commercial calculation and an appeal to the lowest possible tropes.
This is unfortunate. We submit that every piece of writing, even ad copy, can and should aspire to have depth and originality. Words with deep meaning are not the exclusive property of ‘more elevated’ forms of writing. Writers and copywriters alike, in the end, should look for the same thing: to connect with an audience by presenting a problem truthfully.
Meaning vs. Faking: The War of Art
Such a problem with finding meaning has been expressed by different creators and artists as writing from the outside vs. writing from the inside or being truthful vs. being fake.
Every writer, both established and aspiring, should read the work of Steven Pressfield. Indeed, his book ‘The War of Art: Break Through The Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles’ is essential for anyone working in a creative field.
Pressfield articulates the problem that confronts us when attempting to write words with deep meaning. He articulates the conflict as one between the Self vs. the Ego. He states that all great writing comes from the Self, where true originality occurs, unconcerned with how it will be received. Phony or hack writing, on the contrary, comes from the Ego and its fixation on an outcome.
The idea is not to shape the writing so that it ‘sells’, but to let it be. Therein is where unforgettable writing is created which, ironically, may reach and touch millions of people. Pressfield states: “The artist must operate territorially. He must do his work for its own sake.”
He explains that the person who writes from the Ego is the hack: “When the hack sits down to work, he doesn’t ask himself what’s in his own heart, he asks what the market is looking for.”
The Problem of Fear
Okay, this all sounds very nice. The Ego vs. the Self. Meaning vs. Hacky writing. Surely though we have to think ‘rationally’ about our writing, we have to find out what will sell…no?
‘The Elements of Style’, by Strunk & White sums it up very well:
“Your whole duty as a writer is to please and satisfy yourself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one. Start sniffing the air, or glancing at the Trend Machine, and you are as good as dead, although you may make a nice living.”
The job of the copywriter is to be truthful and creative. If and when the copy reaches the client, changes will be asked for or they will not be needed, but that is another story. First, craft the words with deep meaning. Worry about editing later.
George Constanza correctly stated: “Story is the foundation of all entertainment.” It is no different in advertising, copywriting and even audio ads. Content creators must study the principles of good storytelling.
Three Act Structure
Three-act structure goes something like this: The story begins with an inciting incident, which propels the action. The first act ends with a turning point, leading to the second act. The second act is the longest and is divided in two, with a midpoint. The second act finishes with another turning point, which leads to the third act and towards the final climax and resolution.
This three-act structure seems rather dry, but it is valuable. Most forms of content need a strong structure to support further originality.
Subplots and Scenes
Subplots can be added on top of the three-act structure. Writing coach Linda Seger, in ‘Making a Good Script Great’ states: “The overall function of a subplot is to add dimension to the script.”
Crafting compelling scenes is also vital. Scenes themselves are usually the basic framework of ads; many ads can be structured like we would a scene.
There are certain things that a scene does: It advances the story, it reveals character and it is always thematically related to the story.
The Hero’s Journey
‘The hero’s journey’ is another important element in storytelling. This is the most basic genre of story. Moreover, it is a sturdy framework for organizing a story.
This framework begins with an ordinary world, where a hero receives a call to adventure. The hero meets with a mentor and sets out on a journey, crossing a threshold, enduring tests and battling enemies as well as making friends. The hero eventually reaches a metaphoric cave where a final ordeal and battle is fought and a reward and victory is achieved.
This story framework is metaphoric, but it points out the basic building blocks of successful storytelling.
Character development is very important when creating content and words with deep meaning. The first thing that we have to take into account is the need for motivation in our characters. Linda Seger, in her aforementioned book, states it succinctly: “Motivation pushes the character forward into the story.”
Each character desires something. This desire charts out their dramatic arc and puts the character in conflict with other characters.
Conflict is something which simply cannot be overlooked. Such conflict may have several iterations. It can be external conflict, quite literally pitting characters against each other in the pursuit of their desires. It may also be internal conflict in a character, which, nevertheless, propels the plot forward through self-destructive tendencies and such similar situations. Don Draper in ‘Mad Men’ is a good example of inner turmoil that moves a story forward.
When crafting words with deep meaning, there are some elements of style worth exploring.
Omitting Needless Words
There is perhaps no better teacher of writing than Hemingway. He stated the need for omitting what is unnecessary:
“If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.”
There is probably no better advice than this one for creating excellent copy. Some writers use too many adjectives, or write in a way which draws too much attention to itself. This arguably squanders the potency of a piece.
Check out the opening line of ‘Neuromancer’ by William Gibson, a science fiction writer one could argue was influenced by Hemingway:
“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”
This does not mean that a writer must write curt, brisk phrases all the time. It does mean, however, that if the writer is going to be writing more words and longer passages, they all have to be necessary, and add value and weight, lest they are just wordy for wordiness sake. Check out the brilliant opening of ‘Lolita’ by Vladimir Nabokov:
“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.”
Nabokov succeeds with his prose because there are no words or phrases which are unnecessary. This passage is aesthetic and elegant, sure, but deeply revealing: we get to know the depth of feeling/obsession of the narrator, Humbert Humbert, for Lolita. We also get a sense of his character and of the time and place of the story, amongst other things.
Finding Talented Writers
If we want to create words with deep meaning we must find talented writers first.
Online all-inclusive platforms like Bunny Studio have a talented pool of writers able to craft all sorts of written content, including audio ad scripts. Perhaps what most distinguishes this particular platform is the possibility of providing tailor-made, flexible solutions, with constant customer care.
The key issues are (i) being able to communicate what you want specifically and (ii) to have constant communication with the writer/editing team towards the creation of the final copy.
We must understand that all forms of content stand to benefit from good writing. Advertising is not the exception.
There are several principles behind words with deep meaning:
First, every writer should aspire to be truthful and to write with originality. A client’s feedback and editing comes much later.
Second, in the words of George Constanza, “Story is the foundation of all entertainment.” This means learning to craft three-act structure, subplots, scenes and characters (with desire and conflict).
Finally, learning style is important. This includes omitting needless words and being aware of the basics of screenwriting (particularly important when creating ad scripts).
Finding talented writers is difficult. An all-inclusive online provider like Bunny Studio can help.