The Amazing Spider-Man Guide to
Responsible Word Power

Spiderman

As all writers know, words are immensely powerful. You can make readers laugh or cry with fewer than a hundred of them. You can part people from their money. You can make someone’s day. You can change the course of lives.

And you don’t have to be Spider-Man to know that “with great power comes great responsibility.” But why not let ol’ Spidey give us some tips for responsible word power?

Spidey Says: Your Writing Should Be Honest

Of course you should check facts and, where possible, cite sources in your articles. That’s just the basics. Being honest in your writing goes further than that.

It means you’re responsible for including information that you might prefer to omit. If you’re reviewing a product on your blog, for instance, you need to give the bad as well as the good.

It actually builds your credibility and often increases sales to admit the downside. Any good copywriter will tell you that.

Being honest also means sharing something of yourself with the reader. It means being willing to put your own experiences on the page. It means using your heart, and not just your brain, to produce what you write. It may even mean turning down a copywriting job if you feel that you cannot honestly advocate the service or product that you’re asked to write about.

Spidey Says: Your Writing Should Be Good

Along with every other writer, you’re responsible for the future of language. That means doing the best you can to produce a polished piece of writing, without getting lazy or sloppy in your rush to finish the job. “Good writing” means different things to different people – but at least hold yourself to your own standards.

That might mean:

Spidey Says: Your Writing Should Be Clear

A piece of writing might be perfectly “good” but incomprehensible. Take care to express your words in a way your audience understands. Unless you’re writing an academic paper, or a very technical software manual, express yourself in “layman’s terms”.

No reader will struggle through advertising copy that makes them feel stupid. Avoid jargon. Spell out acronyms – even if you think everyone knows them. What will better engage your readers: using long words to show off your vocabulary, or using short, direct words to demonstrate your ability to write clearly and vividly?

Spidey Says: Your Writing is a Reflection of You

When you’ve finished a piece – article, blog post, direct marketing letter – consider whether you’d be glad to have your name associated with it. Even if it’s ghost-written, is it something you’d want people to know was yours?

If you have reservations, take a good hard look at what you’ve written. Are there places where you’ve misled readers? Have you exaggerated the benefits of a product in a way that’s only going to lead to an unhappy customer? Have you left clumsy phrases or poorly-expressed sentences in the piece?

Don’t send off a project to the client, or publish the article on your site or in your newsletter, until you feel it’s something you can proudly put your name on.

What about you? Do you have other criteria that guide the use of your word power?

About the Author: Ali Hale is a freelance writer earning an MA in creative writing. She writes on a number of different blogs, including two of her own: Alpha Student and The Office Diet.

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Comments

  1. Why spidey? Just curious. why not… batman or

    • Because the quote “with great power comes great responsibility” came directly from the spiderman movie.

      • @Bryan, @tyler

        I know spidey said “with great power etc” . but my sentiments were laid out perfectly by @quadzilla in the comment below. :) my point was that anybody else could have said the stuff in the article, and not spidey. (clark kent?) if its spidey, you need some sticky puns to go with it.

        on the flip side, reading the post again, i also think that the post is being “responsible”, which is what spidey would talk about. but, it would have been nice to reinforce that notion with the sticky puns.

        Cheers!

  2. (insert superhero name here)

  3. Because Spidey learned in issue one of The Amazing Spider-Man that “with great power comes great responsibility.” Kinda fits the post, right? :)

  4. The third point needs to be turned into a poster and given to the get-rich-quick schemers. Then it needs to be sent to those who have replaced valuable content with an attempt to “game” social media…

    …which, ironically, destroys their ability to rank super well in social media. “Gaming” isn’t a replacement to good content; it’s more like makeup, emphasizing what already has to be there.

  5. Nice, tight writing, Ali. Welcome to CB.

  6. lol – Why would spiderman say any of those things? Wouldn’t this make more sense:

    Spidey says:

    1. The Web is a big place – make your web site sticky. Give your readers a reason to stay on your site once they arrive.

    2. Have an alter ego. You may be a chump in real life, but be a super hero when you blog.

    3. Fight super-villains. Have a cause that your readers can get behind; like how much MS sucks, the travesty of X, or the evils of ____ .

    4. Be AMAZING. If you’re not Amazing, no one will care if you’re fighting crime . . . or about anything you say or do.

    5. Be high budget. Sure you can try to be cheap, but in these times, people want to be entertained with explosions. Sometimes you gotta spend money to make money, like when I spent $139 million but made it all back and then some.

    6. Grow off your existing success. If you have a successful post or campaign, make a sequel – then another. Beat it into the ground as long as it still works. After the comic book, I did a movie. Did I stop there? Hell no! I made 2 more movies and will milk this as long as I can – and so should you.

    [music . . Spiderman, Spiderman,
    Does whatever a spider can
    Spins a web, any size,
    Catches thieves just like flies
    Look Out!
    Here comes the Spiderman.]

  7. Thanks for the content, Quad. Did you see our guest posting guidelines? You might just have a future on the interwebs. :)

  8. really? Think I might make it? I donno . . . then I’d have to move out of my parents basement and I wouldn’t have the great inspiration of spending my days reading comic books.

    ;)

  9. Quadzilla – that was awesome. Your sequel was definitely better than Spiderman 3.

  10. Always enjoy the random metaphors and how you put them together. Tell Spidey not to do 4,5,6.

    Either way, honesty is the key. Show your human side, let it be seen. People will have more of a connection to you because of it and that will lead to trust.

  11. Interesting content. Basically the writing you do is a reflection of you and your blog unless you are writing for something else. But it will always be a reflection of yourself. So you should definitely try to be honest and write good.

  12. Okay, now I have that Spiderman song in my head. Thanks guys. Very sticky post.

  13. Well “powerful” itself is a word that’s over used in sales messages. It really turns me off to read it.

  14. All solid advice and well made arguments. Thanks for the input.

  15. @Shaun – I agree: my thoughts are that good writing and valuable content can and will rise to the top, without attempts to “game” the system.

    @Shane – Thanks! It’s an honour to be on CopyBlogger. :-)

    @Quad – I love your six suggestions, especially number 6. (Goes for the Matrix, too, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Perhaps someone should do “Jack Sparrow’s Writing Tips”, starting with “These are more guidelines than actual rules”…)

    @Craig – That human connection seems to me to be one of the common factors for highly successful bloggers (Darren Rowse, Steve Pavlina and Brian Clark all share a lot of themselves and their lives with readers.)

    @Franklin – Yes, I think that’s exactly what I was getting at (only you put it far more succinctly – bravo!) Whenever you put your words out there, you’re putting YOURSELF out there. Make sure they reflect you at your best.

    @Janice – The theme tune is now in my head too. Augh!

    @Linda – Interesting point. The word “ultimate” always turns me off, over-use in marketing copy can really kill a word.

    @Bamboo Forest – Thanks! Glad you found it useful.

  16. Man, I love the idea of Jack Sparrow’s blogging tips.

    #1 Never blog sober
    #2 Rule #1 is non-negotiable

  17. I love the idea of blogging from the heart. Simply giving advice is fine but people want to know you and building community and trust are very important components of blogging.

    Kimmy B.
    http://www.prosperityblogger.wordpress.com
    http://www.blogempress.wordpress.com

  18. I think the Jack Sparrow tips could be the best blogging advice since your Sweeney Todd guide, Sonia… ;-)

  19. If your spider sense tingles, there’s something probably off.

    What’s cool about Spidey is he uses his prowess for community good over self-serving gain.

    *wonders how many commenters had or have Spiderman Underoos?*

  20. Great post with some very useful tips. It never hurts to have a refresher on what makes for good blog writing.

  21. Every blog owner should read this post. Sometimes the most basic tips are the most helpful.

  22. Another good advice for blogger that you should pay attention to it. and i totally agree with your point no. 1 that you should be honest :)

  23. Great Advice! :)

  24. really? Think I might make it? I donno . . . then I’d have to move out of my parents basement and I wouldn’t have the great inspiration of spending my days reading comic books.