Rewrite means there are no great writers, there are only great rewriters.
While I urge you to write your first draft as fast as humanly possible, without checking to correct anything or look up anything, I also urge you to review your work, later, in this rewriting stage.
This is where you polish your gem. This is where you change passive words to active words, lame sentences to hypnotic ones. Rewriting is where you become a word sculptor and redesign your copy, moving words, sentences, even entire paragraphs.
There are secrets to doing this, of course. Here are a few of my favorites:
• Use Stephen King's advice. Make 10 copies of your sales letter. Hand them to 10 peers (not family members). When their feedback comes in, look for the majority votes.
• Whenever you see a comma, see if you can change it to a period. People often write sentences way too long. Rather than using commas to set off clauses in a sentence, try using a period and creating several shorter sentences. This will make your writing "move."
• Write in active language. Passive language is boring. Active language is hypnotic. This is a major secret, even though it's been written about by everyone from E.B. White in the famous 1918 book The Elements of Style to me. For example: "The book was read by me" is passive, while "I read the book" is active. Here's a tip: Look for the helping words were, is, was, are, or be as a way of spotting passive sentences.
• Pretend someone will pay you $1,000 for every word you take out of your letter. Edit ruthlessly.
• Rearrange paragraphs. Most great writers are word sculptors. They move paragraphs around like chess pieces on a game board. Pretend you are the Michelangelo of words. Rearrange your writing to make the most sense.
• Have a dialogue with your reader. This is one my greatest secrets. I practice my psychic skills when I write copy. I am always wondering, "What will be on my reader's mind at this point in the letter?" I then address their question at that point.
• Insert hypnotic commands. This is also one of my biggest secrets. I go through my draft and add, change, or rewrite current statements into truly hypnotic ones. This is where I rely on such tools as the Hypnotic Writer's Swipe File, which I absolutely love.
• Read your writing out loud. This can be very revealing. When you speak your words, you are forced to slow down and become more aware of them. But here's an even bigger secret: Get someone to read your writing to you. This can make any errors, awkward sentences, or anything else glaringly obvious. If the person reading your writing stumbles, wrinkles their brow, or seems confused, take note of where they are in your writing and fix it.
Ask yourself, "Where will someone probably skip a section in my writing?" Trust your intuition. If you sense a paragraph may be boring, rewrite it, break it into smaller sections, or delete it. As a famous novelist once said, "I try to leave out the parts people skip." Here's a secret to remember: There are three kinds of readers: Word-for-word readers, skimmers, and jumpers. Skimmers scan your writing looking for key words, benefits, subheadlines, and so on. Jumpers do the same thing, but faster, jumping from headline to subhead to offer to P.S., looking for your main message. Your writing has to appeal to all three kinds of readers. Keep them in mind as you rewrite.
Use the checklist (you'll read about it in the next chapter) to review your writing, looking at specific key areas for possible improvement.
Go through the letter you wrote earlier and see if you can use these tips to rewrite it. For now, just experiment. Do that here:
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