Write a letter to make your copy conversational
“Good writers are visible just behind their words.”
— William Zinsser, author, On Writing Well
Eliot Fette Noyes was a Harvard-trained architect and industrial designer. He worked on projects for IBM — most famously the IBM Selectric typewriter and the Westchester IBM Research Center.
Frustrated with IBM employee jargon, Noyes composed a pamphlet called “Dear Mother.”
He suggested that employees write memos as if they were simple notes to Mom.
It was 1962, and Tom Wolfe was covering the hot rod and custom car culture of Southern California for Esquire magazine.
That is, he was trying to cover it. He was having so much trouble that his desperate editor, Byron Dobell, asked Wolfe to send him his notes so he could have another writer try.
On the night before deadline, Wolfe he sat down at his typewriter and, ignoring all journalistic conventions, banged out a personal letter to Dobell explaining what he wanted to say on the subject. Dobell just removed the salutation — “Dear Byron” — and published the letter intact.
The result was “There Goes (Varoom! Varoom!) That Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby” — an article that helped establish the New Journalism movement.
Source: “Ten Things You Should Know About Eliot Noyes,” Dwell, April 2007