Anybody who writes for a living will have at times looked lovingly at a little phrase or form of words that they’ve just typed out and said “Wow, how good am I!!!”
The so-called perfect example of wordsmithery that you’ve just created is known as a ‘little darling’, a phrase originally attributed to William Faulkener. It's basically showing off with a pen.
And what do we do with these ‘little darlings’?Do we love them? Nurture them? Show them to our friends?
No. We kill the little buggers. Because good writing has no place for such egocentric flourishes.
Good writing is always direct and to the point.
Good writing caters for the reader – it never panders to the author.
And good writing is full of honesty, not pretentiousness.
And all of that is especially true for copywriting.
By its very nature, copywriting is essentially a hard-nosed verbal sales pitch converted to the page. Or the billboard. Or the cornflakes box. Or even whatever 'meme' is currently trending.
There’s usually little enough room for the key selling message without the copywriter getting all fancy-shmancy and thinking they’re suddenly James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway or Marion Keyes.
So next time you catch yourself writing these little darlings, do what Hermann Göring famously liked to do when he heard the word ‘culture’: reach for your revolver... and give it to ‘em right between the eyes.
Hi. I’m a writer of highly effective copy for every marketing sector under the sun. If you've got a copywriting, advertising or design project, please get in touch - I'd love to help.