If you’ve read about me, you already know that my copywriting background differs from the usual B.A. in Marketing, Business, Journalism, English, Advertising, et cetera. I come from a theatrical background, having earned a Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting, and I’ve learned that this experience gives me an advantage in capturing the drama inherent in any business’s story. That’s right, your business has to tell a story to its prospects and customers — and it had better be an exciting one. I can find and present that exciting story, using my knowledge of dramatic principles to make an emotional impact on your audience.
Those principles have changed surprisingly little over thousands of years. Today’s writers rely on tricks of the trade as outlined by Aristotle in his theatrical treatise, The Poetics. Artistotle’s Six Elements of Drama are:
1. PLOT – The order of events in a dramatic presentation. When you tell someone “what happened next” in a story, you are describing the plot. In copywriting, this is the information about your business, its history, its services, etc.
2. THEME – The central idea or meaning of the play. In your business, it’s the why factor — why you do what you do and why that should matter to the reader.
3. CHARACTER – A person represented in the play. Who are the principal players in your company? More importantly, whose point of view does the reader hear in your written words?
4. DICTION/LANGUAGE/DIALOGUE – The word choices and enunciation patterns used by the characters, selected by the writer to help us understand who these people are and what kind of world they live in. I interpret this more broadly in copywriting as the overall tone of voice in your content.
5. MUSIC/RHYTHM – The rise and fall of human speech, as well as the use in ancient Greek drama of sung or chanted passages. It defines the flow and emotional pace of drama, just as copywriting must vary its flow and pace for maximum impact.
6. SPECTACLE – The visuals of a play. Just as costumes, lighting, and special efffects add a “whiz-bang” factor to a play, copywriting uses words to create visual images and inspire the imagination.
So over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll examine in more detail how of these six elements relate to marketing content. You’ll see how the same techniques that moved Greek audiences over 2,000 years ago can work on your “audience” — that is, your target market — today.