Toggle Menu

Write Tight With Rudolph Flesch

Published by: David Garfinkel on 03-09-2020

We’re back with another show in the Old Masters series today. First I need to tell you about something you probably never knew about before: The RCA principle.

I end up telling even some of my advanced mentoring clients about the RCA principle, which I learned about from Joe Karbo in his book “The Lazy Man’s Way To Riches.”

The RCA principle is a copywriting concept that goes like this:

“Build the best radio you can, and take as many parts out of it as you can until it stops working.”

In copywriting terms, that means: Write the best (whatever) you can, and then whittle it down to the smallest number of words, possible.

So that’s the RCA principle. Sounds simple enough, right? All you have to do is write big and then edit it down to as tight as possible.

The problem is, most people I talk to about this have NO IDEA how to do this.

Fair enough. I didn’t learn this in school myself. Even on the college newspaper.

Even in my private tutorial with the department chairman who used to write for Time magazine.

So, to do today’s show, I had to turn to the Old Master of concise, powerful writing himself, Rudolf Flesch.

You know him already through the readability index he helped create, although you may not have realized it.

If you look for a readability score on your copy, as many writers do, that comes directly from Flesch’s work.

He was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1911. In 1938, he fled to the United States to escape the Nazis. By 1943, he had earned a PhD in Library Science from Columbia University. It was then and there he developed the Flesch Reading Ease Formula, which has evolved into the “readability index” that so many copywriters use today.

I took one of his books, The Art of Readable Writing, and cracked it open like a walnut.

Then I picked out the most important pieces…

… .to show you how to use the tools of an Old Master to implement the RCA principle.

On the show, we go over these five steps, harvested from The Art of Readable Writing. And, as a special bonus for Copywriters Podcast subscribers, we also showed an equivalent step each time for achieving a Joe Karbo RCA principle result.

1. Research and organize

KARBO EQUIVALENT: Design the biggest, best radio you can. Don’t build it yet. Just design it.

2. Give shape to your idea

KARBO EQUIVALENT: Build the biggest, bestest radio you can.

3. Make longer words shorter

KARBO EQUIVALENT: Use chips, PC boards, or anything else you can to make the big bad radio work more efficiently,

4. Organize your copy with shorter words into a chronological story.

KARBO EQUIVALENT: Rearrange the parts of your big new radio into the smallest space possible.

5. Edit ruthlessly to get your story into the fewest words possible.

KARBO EQUIVALENT: This is where you take out all the parts of the radio until it stops working.

The Art of Readable Writing, by Rudolf Flesch

link (for used copy):

Keywords: copywriting editing tips

Garfinkel Coaching