10 Minutes with 52

Josh Smith

Effective Copywriting:

Four Fast Ways to Fix Everything You Write

WEBINAR Hosted by 52 Limited
Thursday, June 11, 2020, 9:00 AM PDT

Josh Smith helps professionals become better storytellers. He is a career communicator with over 10 years of experience in copy editing and content design. Josh’s webinar will include quick, big-picture tips that apply across industries and communication channels.

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Throat Clearing

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THROAT CLEARING refers to a short, throwaway preface that helps you organize your thoughts, but delays your point.


  • Today, I’m going to talk about…
  • There are many kinds of…
  • Why do people…?
  • I was ____-ing the other day when…

How to Fix It

“Clear your throat” if it helps you think. But go back and remove kickoff waste before you publish.


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CLUTTER refers to extra details, words, and syllables that drain your audience’s interest, time, and attention.


FROM: At the beginning, I took pictures of the places I have been to, but they were only just average snapshots that any tourist would have taken.

TO: At first, I took pictures of places I went, but they were just snapshots any tourist would take.

How to Fix It

Aggressively simplify your grammar with succinct statements and active voice.

Replace long, dull words with vibrant, on-brand alternatives.

Story Arc

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Every message should have a beginning, a middle, and an end that answers what came before it, that is, an end that closes the STORY ARC.


  • Setting–Conflict—Resolution
  • Problem–Solution–Call to Action
  • Setup–Comedic Pause—Punchline
  • Attention Getter—Credibility—Thesis Statement

How to Fix It

Draw a mental box around your draft’s beginning, middle, and end.

Then, ensure:

  • The beginning has all necessary details.
  • The middle amps up the interest.
  • The end’s call to action addresses all previous details.


If your ending can’t accommodate details from the beginning or the middle, those details are probably clutter.

White Space + Hooks

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WHITE SPACE breaks your message into pieces to let readers relax, orient within your story arc, digest details, and live your suspense.

HOOKS are arresting details that beckon readers to engage with what lies beyond the imminent white space.


White Space:

  • Frequent paragraph breaks online
  • Airy space around keystone graphics
  • Verbal pauses between presentation points
  • Line breaks on social posts before a link


  • Unanswered questions
  • Strong emotions
  • Foreshadowing
  • Previews of next point

How to Fix Them

Split long sections just after the most compelling moments.

Highlight keystone content with the most prominent white space.

Ensure the last sentence before white spaces gives your audience reason to return.


Once your paragraph’s aspect ratio becomes a square, prepare to add a paragraph break.

Continue the Conversation

Contact Josh Smith

Technical Writing Fundamentals Course

ProEdit’s eight-hour technical writing course is designed for professionals in a variety of disciplines who create technical documentation in the workplace or are considering a career in technical writing. Over two days, the Zoom webinar covers theory, process, English writing mechanics, and best practices.

July 15 & 16, 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM PDT

Find More 10 Minutes with 52

Thank you to 52 Limited for the opportunity to share. For more webinars like this one, see what’s coming at 52ltd.com.

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