Sunday, September 23, 2012

September 24 Creative Writing Assignment

Great job so far! I had some really good results from last week’s assignment. I’m enjoying reading your works. Remember: editing is never personal. If you work in any field that requires writing, someone will edit your work. Also, my one middle school student has been able to keep up with the high school assignments, so I am only going to post high school assignments each week.

Quotes from last week:

“…a healthy option for a kid’s favorite meal…”

“…stringy cheese covering up all the delicious noodles…”

“Stop worrying if you have time to make something …”

“…the smell of cinnamon and sugar mixed together floated up to my room…”

We are building up to a couple of longer writing assignments that I think you will enjoy. For a couple of more weeks, however, I want us to continue working on some fundamentals that will lay the foundation for your longer pieces. We have worked on descriptive language--text that paints a picture of a product or object. This week we are going to work on communication that relates more to underlying messages or feelings.

In business, this comes through what is known as the tagline or slogan. With taglines, an image is put into words. These words shape how people feel about a product, a company or a service. Example: Hallmark: When you care enough to send the very best. These few words convey a lot to an audience. Who doesn’t want to care enough to send the best? Why not make sure you buy the best? This is a special time or a sad time in life--someone needs a card--I need to make sure it is the best.

Why doesn’t Hallmark say, “You’re on a budget, so buy an affordable card,” instead of using their slogan? That is not consistent with who Hallmark is. They aren’t Dollar Tree offering cheaper cards. Their cards and gifts cost a little more. So you have to justify to someone why they should come spend a little more.

This goes hand in hand with what we talked about last week: using a few memorable words to say a lot. A tagline or branding slogan is a phrase that sums up the feelings about a company, product or service. Sounds easy coming up with one, but it can be really hard work.

For a product, you need a phrase that is easy to remember and sets your product apart from other similar products. You have to convey feelings that help a consumer desire or need your product over another. Your words have to be credible--you can’t imply you have family-friendly prices if you know your product costs more than others. People will lose trust in you.

Effective business slogans (some of these are older slogans):

Allstate: You’re in good hands (implies that they may not be the cheapest, but they care about you and are going to take care of you--they are dependable)
Coca-Cola: It’s the real thing.
Disney: The happiest place on earth.
FedEx: When it absolutely has to be there on time.
Ford: Built for the road ahead.
Kodak: Share moments. Share life.
Nike: Just do it.
Raid: Kills bugs dead.
Skittles: Taste the rainbow.
Dell Computer: Get more out of now.
General Mills: The company of champions.
Wheaties: The breakfast of champions.
Target: Expect more. Pay less.
Staples: That was easy.
Nestle: Good food. Good life.
Home Depot: More saving. More doing.
Dunkin’ Donuts: America runs on Dunkin’.

If you are writing or producing a movie, you won’t necessarily have a slogan or tagline. You will, however, want one really good memorable line to represent your film. People remember “just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water” from Jaws 2 or “to boldly go where no man has gone before” from Star Trek. I’m sure you can think of a memorable line from your favorite movie that was used for advertising.

With books, authors want short quotes from readers and reviewers on the back cover. Turn over a paperback book you have at home and see if you can find examples of short quotes from people (other than the author) used to sum up the feeling and purpose of the book. Teen and adult books have this more than children’s books. Here are a few examples I found here at home:

“…abounds with tales of motherly wit and wisdom…”
“… she has not only packed a lot of useful information in this book, but she’s also an entertaining writer…”
“…spirited and humorous…”
“…real kids in real places…”
“…a thrilling story of disaster and incredible heroism…”
“…her fans won’t be disappointed…”

Books also have longer plot summaries and reviews on the cover or inside pages, but they know that readers often just take a quick glance in a store before deciding to read more, buy a book or walk on.

Do at least two of the following options. If you have time, feel free to submit answers for all of them:

Assignment 1:
Take two of the company taglines above and tell me in 200 words or less why you think these are effective and what they would mean to you as a customer. I gave you a short hint of how to do this with the Allstate slogan. Why did the writer choose the words they did? How do the words make you feel about the product or company?

Assignment 2:
Think of the meal you wrote about last week. Give me three possible slogans you could use for the meal if you packaged it to sell (or you could create taglines for a restaurant that would sell your type of meal).

Assignment 3:
Let’s sell homeschooling! You can think of the umbrella school you are registered under or homeschooling in general. Let’s think of slogans that we can put on an ad in a magazine that covers traditional schools and education in general. (Go to a few school websites if you want to see their slogans. My college alma mater uses: Dreamers. Thinkers. Doers. ) Write at least two taglines that would go with a picture of students who homeschool or pictures of homeschool books (or any other picture that represented homeschooling).

Assignment 4:
Create an original quote that could be put on the back of your favorite book you are currently reading (or have just finished). Do this for three of your favorite books. Look at the examples above to see that these have to be short, but still say a lot. These entice the reader to find out more.

What’s the point of this assignment? To help students see how specific word choices bring about specific feelings with people. Every word matters when you write. If I say something is “cheap,” some people will immediately put it down because it implies to some people that it is lower quality or not up to their standards. Restaurants are trying to get consumers to stop thinking of “fast” as unhealthy. In the past, if you told me you were going to pick up fast food on the way home, I wouldn’t picture anything healthy. So if your audience reads health-food ads, you would never want to imply that your product was “fast food.” Words make people feel a certain way. The trick is to put together the right combination of words to make your audience understand what you are trying to tell them.

No comments:

Post a Comment