Writing Tips at GarySpeer.com

Tips for writers and musing about writing and life

Don’t be a ‘grammar cop’; make communication your writing priority


I’ve touched on the importance of correct grammar and usage in many of my posts here, and I will do my best to use and to advocate good grammar wherever English is written or spoken. But I think it’s important to clarify something related to grammar and the nature of writing.

Don’t be a “grammar cop” so rigidly stuck or correct grammar and usage that your writing fails to communicate. Let me explain what I mean by that, and mostly this relates to writing sales copy.

I was reading an excellent (and free) eBook I found just today. The book is called “The Lousy Writers’ Guide to Writing Persuasively,” and a major theme in the book is that persuasive writing (I generally call that ad writing or copywriting here) exists for one chief reason. Persuasive writing is salesmanship in print — it exists to SELL first of all. Some key statements in that book:

” … you are not writing to impress your English teacher or win any awards … so take some liberty in grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. You want it to be read and acted upon, not read and admired!”

At that point, I battle with my obsession with “correct” grammar and usage, take a deep breath, and admit: The writer of that ebook (which you can find here if you’d like a copy) is RIGHT. Whether you’re selling steel buildings or fitness center memberships, your job as a copywriter is to move your readers to take action and buy that steel building or fitness center membership.

The moral of this post: If you know the “rules” and need to break them to accomplish what you want with your writing, go ahead and break ’em.

Of course, I will go to my grave — or at least keyboard until my cold, crippled fingers can keyboard no longer — maintaining that 90 percent of the time you can write effective, persuasive copy AND correct English grammar/usage can still prevail.