The Art of Lex Appeal

By Daisy Atkinson | 08 Mar 2015

What really gets me excited about great lex(icon) is constant reinvention. But keeping things fresh is a relentless battle, and putting the spice back into proceedings takes limitless creativity and serious groundwork.

So when I need to shake things up, I look to the world's literary ground breakers. Kurt Vonnegut, author of The Slaughterhouse Five and Breakfast of Champions, lived by the notion that the form is his own and he'll do whatever the hell he wants with it. Out of this healthy rebellion came an approach to language and form I'd never read before and haven't since.

1. Be playful

We're visual animals and as copywriters we often forget to appease that side of us properly. So if you're afforded the pleasure of switching up your format don't disregard the entire range available to you. I'm not just talking about infographics, but simple drawings, cartoon-like sketches, images and clips can all bring your writing to life as long as it's relevant and informs your writing. Go on, surprise your readers.

2. Get inventive

When it comes to content planning, it's easy to become complacent and play it safe. But ask yourself, will anyone actually want to read this or am I simply creating content that's only purpose is to meet sales objectives? While we'll always have a set of rules to follow, we have the creative authority to propose new alternatives when we don't think something's working. We all have a duty of care over our work and a large part of that is ensuring we don't produce anything boring, misinformed or samey.

3. Don't send them to sleep

A great way to render your readers unconscious is to overuse the same language. Stale expressions and metaphors are waste matter. A reader won't even register phrases like 'taking into account' and 'have an effect on', because tired old constructions simply cause readers to fill in the blanks. If they're doing this then they're not paying attention to the deeper meaning of your text. Rid your copy of worn-out phrases, trite descriptions and while I'm on the subject, generic Latinate words like 'utilise' and 'interesting' where far fierier and measureable plain English equivalents (see below) are to hand. It was the subject of George Orwell's diatribe back in 1946, and the art of concision is still valid today.

'As machines, we were flabby bags of ancient plumbing and wiring, of rusty hinges and feeble springs.'

Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut

Remember, it's not about how big or fancy your biro is, it's what you do with it that counts.