The Copy Team Word Babies That Didn’t Make the Cut
Kill your darlings. It’s one of the most crucial pieces of advice any writer will receive. Sometimes, for the overall good of the work, your meticulously crafted sentences or hilarious bon mots have to be cut. But that doesn’t mean we don’t carry their memory around with us. So please indulge the Octopus Group Copywriting Team as they relay their mournful reminisces of the words they wrote that were too good for this world.
Jamie Fewery – Head of Copy
My favourite words are ‘truckle’ and ‘stramash’. The former is described by the dictionary as a ‘small, barrel-shaped cheese’; the latter, which this story concerns, is a Scottish word meaning tumult, fight or row with its origins in the 18th century, and which (for reasons that should be obvious) I included in a research report about payments technologies.
To be honest, I knew it stood little chance of making it past draft one. But its journey to being cut did not progress as I had expected it to.
The first dissenting voice was my colleague, Jonny Muir, who said words to the effect of ‘good try, but I can’t see stramash getting through’. Next came our Brand Engagement team, whose feedback amounted to ‘excellent use of an excellent word, but let’s not send it to the client’.
And here, dear reader, is the first big twist in this tale.
I forgot to delete it. The copy went to the client with stramash included, and it was left unmentioned in their subsequent feedback. By all accounts, it had made it through. Possibly for the first time ever, a colloquial Scottish word meaning row was in a B2B research report.
But then (second twist), I got cold feet. Instead of thinking I’d gotten away with it, that my favourite word was in, I assumed that the client had missed it. And in creating my second draft, I – yes I – deleted stramash from the copy.
Darling killed. Stramash replaced with ‘tumult’ or something equally banal. Document (inevitably) the poorer for it. Leaving me wondering how I can now get ‘truckle’ into a piece about digital transformation.
Jonny Muir – Senior Copywriter
It’s my firm belief that not enough telecom industry blogs reference the 90s boyband 5ive. Which is why, in an article about mobile connectivity, I worked in the sub-header Everybody get up, 5G will make you get down(load). The client felt like their audience wouldn’t fully appreciate the pun.
In a listicle-style article about the lies people tell on conference calls, I wrote that anyone saying ‘I want to keep this call short’ would then launch into a half-hour monologue. I described it as the conference call equivalent of saying ‘I’m not a racist, but…’, which didn’t make it through client amends, for reasons that are obvious to me in hindsight.
And then there’s the one cut that I never really got over. I titled the first draft of an eGuide about enterprise Wi-Fi adoption Take My Wi-Fi, Please, which, in what can only be described as a moment of editorial cowardice, was changed before it even went to the client. To this day, I still think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.
Jen Ho – Midweight Copywriter
Jen understands the essentially mercenary nature of being a wordsmith for hire, and thus forms no emotional attachments to her work. All words are expendable to her, and she is prepared to sacrifice any of them for her clients without hesitation.
However, when pressed, she admits that she tried to sex up a blog about IT infrastructure by referring to a ‘smooth back-end’. It was deemed too fruity for the subject matter. Her current attitude could be seen as a sign that she never really got over it.
We hope that this piece confirms the Copywriting team’s total commitment to delivering work that pleases our clients. Get in touch and let them kill their darlings for you!