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To The Bone Copywriting

Published by: David Garfinkel on 05-31-2021

Today we return to our Old Masters series, but this one is really different. We’re going to look at some of the best specific advice from two people who weren’t copywriters.

One was a teacher of writing who really had a big influence on playwrights and screenwriters. The other one didn’t even teach writing at all. At least not writing as we know it.

We’ll get to these people in a minute. What they had in common was, they had mastered how to create works that really reached people emotionally in a way that most writers, including most copywriters, only have at best a vague way to do.

When you apply what I learned from them to what we do, I call this “to-the-bone” copywriting. Because it reaches deeper into your prospect than even some of the most successful sales letters. And by doing so, it will make any sales letter even more successful.

You’ll have to take a leap of faith and see if you don’t agree once we get knee-deep into this “to-the-bone” stuff.

So when we get to the phrase “the art and science of copywriting,” today’s show is about the art part. Not art for art’s sake, but some modified artistic ideas and techniques for pragmatic purposes. Copy that connects better; reaches people more deeply when they’re reading it; and, converts better as a result.

We’re taking from the works of two Old Masters, and you may never have heard of them before. That’s alright. They come from fields other than copywriting.

But they had such an overwhelming influence on major art forms in the 20th century, where emotional connection and meaningful audience experience are the coin of the realm, that I was sure I could dig out some ideas and shape them usefully for copy.

Our first old master was a man by the name of Lajos Egri. Originally from Hungary, he came to the US and wrote a book for playwrights called “The Art of Dramatic Writing.” Many writers and directors in Hollywood have used his ideas for putting films together.

“The Art of Dramatic Writing” is really too heavy-duty for copywriting purposes. But Egri also wrote a book that is out of print today and very hard to find called “Your Key to Successful Writing.” This was almost a for-Dummies version of his original book. Very solid, but pared down to the basics.

I found a couple of to-the-bone secrets in there that are nearly ready-made for copywriting.

Our second Old Master is very well known to students of classical music and almost invisible to nearly everyone else. But, she is almost solely responsible for American concert music starting to be taken seriously in the rest of the world, starting in the early 20th Century. Her name was Nadia Boulanger, and she lived in Paris.

Americans including composers Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Burt Bacharach and Quincy Jones are among the people she taught, and she influenced all of American and European music tremendously. She was also a composer, conductor and performer, but most of her work was her teaching.

Now, she was a music person, not a words person. Very literate and educated, but everything was music for her, writing music, analyzing students’ music, talking about music.

The book we’re drawing from is called “Mademoiselle” and it consists of reconstructed conversations she had. This book is also out of print and hard to find.

The reason I chose Lajos Egri and Nadia Boulanger for today’s Old Masters Series show is, they helped writers and composers make a deep emotional connection with their viewers and listeners in ways few other teachers were able to. So what they have to say will be very useful to copywriters looking for their next edge.

Keywords: old masters copywriting

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