Archive for the ‘Writing tips’ Category

writing tips for the criminally inclined

May 2, 2013

Great writing takes guts and danger and an edge of crazy. Not for the faint of heart. If you want to plunge into that world, here’s what you need to know.

1.     WRITE DRUNK

Hemingway said, “Write drunk. Edit sober.” Martinis aside, he meant don’t hold back in your first draft. Dump every insane, half-baked, inspired, stupid idea onto the page. Later you can carve it up with the exacto knife.

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 2.     STEAL

In his book, “Steal like an Artist,”  Austin Kleon claims that no original ideas exist. So seek inspiration everywhere: from that pop song, to the Chagall exhibit, to that trailer that blew you away. Don’t be afraid if something’s been done before. Steal, then transform.

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 3.     PUNCH

Forget soft, wimpy words. Seek out action verbs. Make your sentences brief and direct. Use short words—they get into the brain faster. If your sentence starts with “there is” or ‘it is” then, pal, your punch lacks power.

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 4.     FAKE YOUR IDENTITY

Engage in identity theft. Try on other personalities in your writing. Personality inspires word choice, cadence, and can transform something dull into entertainment. Just ask Randall, the guy who turned a film on Honey Badgers into 59 million YouTube hits (and counting)!

  5.     MURDER

Once you’ve spilled your guts onto the page, go in for the kill. Axe those extra words. Strike out adjectives. Murder those ideas that you love, but don’t fit the goals this time. Kill your darlings. Only the strong survive.

What are some of your favorite writing tips?

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unleash your writing genius

April 2, 2012

Hola from Barcelona!

One of our favorite cities for architecture and inspiration.

When we weren’t cruising the city, we were soaking up the sights and sounds of Promax Europe. Including the awesome Reep One. The conference was jamming!

Then we shared our tips for unleashing your writing genius. First step–find what inspires you . . . (click the picture to see the graphics and spots from our presentation).

Bare your assets

July 6, 2011
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The room was buzzing at our Promax session in New York.
Were we in the buff? Nah.
We were stripping spots down to their bare essentials:
Message, Ideas, and Words.
The pictures were just a tease.
Click the bra to see what we showed.
Give it time to load. Chock full of fun spots!

Write with 3 Balls

June 28, 2010

This year the Promax/BDA conference in LA brought in great speakers from around the world and smashed last year’s attendance numbers. We felt honored to be included.

We had a blast presenting “Write with 3 Balls” to the audience of marketing executives, and they returned the feeling. Loved seeing that SRO crowd. As promised, here’s what we showed. Enjoy and please let us know what you think!

[The presentation is packed with good stuff and videos–please give it a few moments to load up.]

Promax Presentation

Add New Post ‹ sharpen your tools — WordPress, posted with vodpod

aim true

May 31, 2010

Promax Boot Camp preview


Every award-winning spot shares one thing in common.

You’re probably thinking big budget, but not so fast. What’s the one single thing award-winning-wows-around-the-water-cooler spots have?

They have a single message. One point. One idea.

As Grandpa Button used to say, “You can’t hit two targets with one arrow.” It only looks easy. Nailing that single message takes plenty of practice so let’s give it a go.

Here’s a kick-ass spot. You tell us the single message. We’ll bet four to one you get the answer.

What is the main message?

A. OMG, there really IS a water shortage!

B. All my voice-overs should have a French accent.

C. Axe=Sex

Think you’ve got the hang of it–good. Next, how do you decide what that single message should be? That, my friend, is for Boot Camp.

At ease.

writing bootcamp

May 26, 2010

This June we’re packing up our gear and heading to bootcamp in the tony jungles of LA.

Promax/BDA, the organization of TV promotion execs, invited us to put TV novices and honchos through some basic writing drills. Because, frankly, promo writing has gotten listless and lazy. Time to lose the love handles around the verbiage.

Ready for a bootcamp preview? Check here over the next few weeks. You’ll find out how to:

-Kick your spots into award-winning territory

-Pack muscle onto your prose

-Settle the showdown between pictures and words

-Tell a competent story, soldier.

And if you’ve got a spot that you think would be prime example of any of these topics, we’re paying attention and we love showing you off.

At ease.

endings+beginnings

March 22, 2010

3 brilliant spots.

Each makes a different point about beginnings and endings.

The first celebrates the end of a soldier’s tour of duty. I love how honest and simple the execution is.

The next is the perfect sequel ending to one of the most popular viral videos ever.

And the last sparked imitators world wide because–in a brilliant twist–the ending is the beginning. (Stay to the end, it’s worth it.)

All three  spots move me in different ways. Two of them cost almost nothing to produce. They inspire by strong writing and unexpected twists.

Flannery O’Connor once said “Beginnings+endings are critical moments . . . the shorter the narrative, the more important their function and their import.” These short ads make the most of both.

I hope they start something in you.

lingo stars

March 8, 2010

Give me fifteen minutes with a new on-air talent. I’ll tell you if they have breakout potential. How? By listening to them talk.

Breakout talent speak a different language from the rest of us.

Cruise the top ranked personalities of 2009. Rush Limbaugh? “Dittoheads” know their leader. Oprah Winfrey has her “aha moments.” John Stewart, “Not so much.”

One of my favorites, Rachael Ray, brings a whole new vocabulary to cooking. When she calls olive oil “EVOO,” or declares “Yummo” after tasting a “spoonola,” she’s telling us that food isn’t serious. It’s fun and colorful and just us guys hanging around the counter.

What’s your brand lingo telling everyone?

can’t help ourselves

February 28, 2010


Thirteen of us crowded onto the sofa and chairs around the Superbowl, and this spot came on. A man, a boat, and a horse. The guys laughed because it poked fun at what they think women like: six pack abs, diamonds, and “tickets to that thing you love.” The women laughed because this guy is pumped full of himself.

Women and men: now that’s a tightrope of humor. Old Spice pulled it off, towel and all.

That’s the beauty of finding the right point of view in your brand personality. When it works, you can’t help yourself.

How have you used POV to grab someone’s attention?

*If you want to meet the guy behind the Spice, go here.

let’s talk

October 23, 2009

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We’ve talked about conversational writing. Now, let’s talk conversation. Part 4 of our Write With Balls session (from Promax/BDA) is all about getting the dialogue going.

Imagine running to a train when, suddenly,  other commuters break into a fox trot. What would you do? I’d take a picture and call my friends. That’s what T-mobile hoped for–and they turned it into a viral video that circled  the globe.

January 20th. I was sitting in front of the TV, laptop open and, while several million huddled together  in the Washington,  I was with all my friends watching the event with CNN and Facebook.

It didn’t matter that all the comments flying by were just a virutal version of “Can you believe this is happening?”

The ability to connect with my friends and strangers made a great moment even more memorable. And it was a perfect fit for CNN’s brand.

Finally, this spring, I felt like the world had taken a weird turn when I saw this video on youtube. But of course it was part of another massive plan. This time for True Blood, a revolutionary and virtual ad campaign.

Shared moments,  virtual moments, vampire moments: They’re different sides of the same subway token. Kind of crazy, totally exciting and here we are with the best seat in the house, witnessing this new frontier.

What’s your favorite shared moment?