This post is by Nick Cernis.
There’s a famous adage: “With great power comes a high electricity bill.”
Writers enjoy a multitude of tools to exert power over their readers. If you’re a purist, you’ll despise the very thought of the weapon I’m about to offer:
Sometimes typose suck you in.
You couldn’t stand that, could you? I fully admit—it makes me cringe with pain too. But if you want an engaged audience and you use them sparingly, typos and misquotes can really draw your readers in.
How to Wake a Nation
Misspellings and invented words work too.
An author I shan’t name once confessed to deliberately mangling words in their writing online. They found a deliciously wicked pleasure in using “Portugalian” instead of “Portuguese” when referring to the people of Portugal. Utter chaos ensued.
In addition to emails from proud Portugalians linking to evidence of their country’s fine wine, climate and history, the author awoke to a delicate brew of comments kindly correcting the error and commenting on the article. In just one day, hordes of lurkers had crawled out of the network to engage the author in conversation.
When you’ve drawn out the shy ones once, it’s far easier to do it again. As the saying goes, “once bitten, twice as likely to come back.”
Frankly My Dear, You’re Misquoting Me
Our cheeky friend Miss Quote can deliver the same delicate poison as Miss Spelling, but with a twist.
As well as the ability to drip-feed humour and invite comment, misquotes provoke a mental hiccup. Your reader must pause to reconsider them. My opening sentence may have prompted a short brain fart while you stopped briefly to recall what great power is really meant to bring.
The power of misquoting comes almost entirely from the disruption of your reader’s thought process. This is a concept central to the gentle art of persuasion, and one that can make your writing all the more convincing. Boom! And then they’re hooked.
I’m not suggesting that you deliberately corrupt your posts to slip your readers false information. After all, there are plenty of drunken Wikipedia users to steal that trophy from you.
Three Quick Ways To Add Spice With Wordplay Today
- Slip a clever typo, misspelling or fabricated word into your next post and see who bites.
- Misquote a well-known saying from your niche in a way that provokes a response.
- Incite a punn riot in the comments of this post.
Warning: Don’t Make This Stupid Mistake!
I thought it would be funny to apply the concept of deliberate word butchery to everyday life. Boy, was I wrong!
While preparing food in the kitchen with my long-term girlfriend, I got down on one knee and uttered the immortal words, “Darling, will you marinade me?” It was lucky I’d hidden the knives first.
Use your new power responsibly!
About the Author: Nick Cernis is the proprietor of Put Things Off, a blog that helps freelancers, entrepreneurs and busy people just like you work smarter, play harder and live the lives they love.