Sometimes, when they hear you’re a copywriter, people proudly exclaim that they too can’t stand rogue apostrophes and a complacent attitude to putting letters in the right place – especially in this age of automatic spell-checkers, they often say.
Yet there’s so more to the art of copywriting than this.
I’m all in favour of getting things grammatically tight and making sure things are spelt correctly, but as a freelance copywriter, what really presses my buttons are words that convey a message with precision and clarity.
A fisticuffs between ‘there’, ‘their’ and ’they’re’ wicks my sensibility as much as the next linguistic nut. And I’ll begrudgingly tolerate an inadvertent spelling malfunction if the sentiment behind the words makes a point succinctly.
But if copy rambles on and on with irrelevancies, shirks responsibility about who’s saying what and doesn’t leave you with a clear impression of what to do next, then I come out in a semantic rash.
It’s then that my mental red pen comes out and words get euthanised left, right and centre.
Because incoherent wittering is what really holds copywriting back and it deserves a zero-tolerance approach, unlike trivial grammatical pedantry.
And a zero-tolerance approach to anything short of absolute clarity is exactly what you get when you hand your copy over to me: the self-appointed simplicity stazi.