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  • Julie Levitch

Don't Fear the Unexpected Words

As a writer, it’s probably not very surprising that when I listen to music I hone in on lyrics. But what makes a lyric great? It’s undeniably a magical mix of storytelling and creativity that captivates the listener and holds them for the length of the song.

Take a listen to The Eagles “Hotel California,” and your mind will immediately visualize the powerful lyrics.

On a dark desert highway Cool wind in my hair Warm smell of colitas Rising up through the air Up ahead in the distance I saw a shimmering light My head grew heavy, and my sight grew dim I had to stop for the night

A songwriter’s imagery captured in lyrics isn’t really all that different than what content writers must strive to achieve. Creating a perfect, tightly scripted narrative takes contemplation, skill, and plenty of rewriting. Like with a song, you only have a limited amount of time to make your point with a piece of content. Every single word should serve the message of your hook, so that the story is developed and driving home at every opportunity. Fluff that just sounds good or feels good is not just a waste of space, it will lose your audience.

So, what is valuable? Sometimes it’s the tiniest of detail that makes all the difference. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a single, unexpected, descriptive word in a blog post, customer story—or song for that matter—can transform the ho-hum into something much, much more.

In one of my all-time favorite songs, “Sweet City Woman” from the Stampeders, there is the most unexpected lyric that always makes me smile.

And she sings in the evening Old familiar tunes And she feeds me love and tenderness and macaroons

Macaroons? Huh? Now, the songwriter could have chosen any word for that last line, but macaroons capture the down home, joyful nature of the melody. It has such a sweet and playful ring to it that it bumps up a standard pop song into classic territory.

This same strategy works with content writing. Don’t be afraid to branch out beyond the usual terminology and lingo. If it’s still factually correct, it should be fair game. Consider moving away from overused verbs like “utilize” and “deliver” and go for something more descriptive. Pepper in a colorful adjective or adverb, and you’ll quickly elevate the readability of your content.

Be brave when it comes to your content and play with words like a songwriter. Who knows? You may end up with a piece that gets your prospects singing your praises.

Song of the Day: Sweet City Woman, The Stampeders

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