When the obvious isn’t, or common sense, of course not – guest post

Ogilvy’s 10 writing tips

Chase Reeves Twitter and Website


Ogilvy’s 10 Writing Tips

We’ve seen a few other lists from Ogilvy. He’s a listy guy. I tried hard not to need this one as well, but it’s just too good.

Ogilvy’s 10 Writing Tips:

  1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.

  2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.

  3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.

  4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.

  5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.

  6. Check your quotations.

  7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.

  8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.

  9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.

  10. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want. David


The best advice my creative writing teacher, Mr. Christensen, ever gave me was to write naturally, especially dialogue.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, try writing a conversation out, then reading it out loud.  If it’s done right, you can imagine the people standing there, speaking your lines.  If not, it’s a god damn train wreck.  This has ALWAYS bothered me when I read other people’s writing.  I have never in my life called my husband, mind you my husband of 20 years, ‘my beloved’.  It’s 2013, not 1913.  But then you have the problem of pop culture slang – that’s just as horrible as well, unless it fits the time and place of your piece.  Then there are stereotypes:  Russians always drink vodka and always have horrible English accents – but then I’ve made this mistake, myself.

And I just totally bought Roman-Raphaelson’s Writing that Works.  I, at least, try to imagine myself as a brown sheep.


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