July 31, 2015

Haiku masters

Readers offer writing tips in 17 syllables

Last month, in honor of the New York City Department of Transportation’s new haiku street safety signs, we asked readers to send us their writing tips in haiku.

CHAPTER AND VERSE Use haiku to tell your story.

Here are the best of the bunch:

Joanna Foote, communications coordinator and webmaster for the City of Eagan, declares:

“Writing with purpose
A right hook well delivered
Surely a knockout.”
“An Editor is
To good writers a chisel
When finished, art remains.”

Louise Grieco, public information specialist for the Bethlehem Public Library, shares a metaphor and her writing process in this piece:

Writing is not a breeze
“Make a draft or two.
Then repair all gaps, dry rot,
and windy phrases.”

Our most prolific entrant, Mary Marsh, production coordinator for Mitchell Communications Group Inc., loses no points by appealing to the judge in this entry:

“Ann, please consider
These tips as your winners; I
Love to win prizes.”

Kim Burdett, a communication specialist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, sounds a little ambivalent about the form in her entry:

“What’s next, a sonnet?
Haikus are so limiting
No constriction, please.”

Christel Hall, principal of PRowrite Public Relations, advises:

“Why did you write this?
Keep your audience in mind.
Why should they read it?”
“Have news to release?
Make sure your readers will care.
Otherwise, s’not news.”

I love that apostrophe in the last line.

Mark Hembree, associate editor of FineScale Modeler magazine, takes on overwriting, the approval process and punctuation in 17 syllables per tip:

“If you say in ten
What can be said well in five
I will edit you.”
“Words woven in gold
Often will tarnish and fade
In a client’s hands.”
“When commas are weak
Semicolon saves the day
It’s Supercomma!”

I adore that supercomma!

Mark, you’re the runner-up in our little contest.

My favorite piece, and therefore the winner, comes from Elaine G. Helms, director of marketing for Jenkins•Peer Architects. I appreciate the analogy to another Japanese art form in this piece:

“Writing, like sushi,
should be thoughtfully formed and
easy to consume.”

Congratulations, Elaine. Watch your mailbox for one of my favorite examples of organizational communication.

Thanks to everyone who played — and don’t miss our March writing challenge: the 6-word writing tip essay.

March writing challenge: 6-word essay

Students First recently held a six-word essay contest to best describe what it means to be a great teacher. The winner:

“I remember her 50 years later.”

The runners up:

“They doubted, you believed, I succeeded.”
“Selflessly dedicated to someone else’s success.”
“Teachers hold the ladders students climb.”
“All thirty students raised their hand.”
“Spark interest. Ignite curiosity. Fuel dreams.”

More than 100,000 people voted in this contest — showing that you can have a big impact in a few words.

Now it’s your turn.

“Give people harsh restraints, and sometimes it spurs creativity rather than hampering it,” says 400 Words editor Katherine Sharpe.

How could you use the 6-word essay format to breathe new life into your communications?

  • Master the Art of Storytelling

    “Nobody ever sold anybody anything by boring them to death.” — David Ogilvy

    Ogilvy was right. If you want someone to buy what you’re selling — whether you’re pitching products and services or programs and ideas — you must first engage them. And nothing draws readers in quite as well as creative material.

    In Master the Art of Storytelling, a two-day creative writing master class on July 29-30 in San Francisco, you’ll learn how to bring your messages to life with storytelling, wordplay and metaphor. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

    • Grab Attention With Feature Stories: Craft creative leads and kickers
    • Make Your Copy More Colorful: Engage readers with fun facts, juicy details
    • Play With Your Words: Spice up your headlines, leads and sound bites with wordplay
    • Master the Art of the Storyteller: Tap ‘the most powerful form of human communication’
    • Add Meaning With Metaphor: Clarify complex concepts with analogy
    • Edit, write, repeat: Bring your laptop and a story to work on, write and rewrite, get and give feedback, and leave with a totally rewritten piece

    Learn more about the Master Class.

    Would you like to hold an in-house Master the Art of Storytelling workshop? Contact Ann directly.

    Register for Master the Art of Storytelling Workshop in San Francisco.

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