A Simple Technique That Fixes Boring Passages of Copy (and Instantly Creates Points of Curiosity
for Your Reader)

Writer sitting on the couch with laptop and headphones

It wasn’t one of his best habits, yet it’s been said he couldn’t write without one …

I’m talking about a legendary copywriter whose name you probably aren’t familiar with … Mel Martin. And his bad habit was smoking way too many cigarettes.

In fact, Brian Kurtz, former Vice President of Boardroom Inc., now known as Bottom Line Inc., once described Mel as an incessant smoker. If Mel ran out of cigarettes while working on sales copy, he had to stop writing immediately and go out and get more.

Mel began his career writing advertisements for the Sussman & Sugar ad agency sometime in the late 1950s. The agency’s specialty was producing ads to sell books.

In fact, it was Sussman & Sugar that wrote the ad that sold David Ogilvy’s book, Confessions of an Advertising Man.

Knowing that Mel understood the book publishing industry, he was next hired by Herb Nagourney, then publisher of the New York Times books division.

And when Boardroom Inc. began to experience rapid growth, the company’s owner Marty Edelston began looking for full-time copywriters. And he happened to come across Mel’s name.

The two met and Marty convinced Mel to work with him at Boardroom. But Mel’s job wasn’t writing copy right away. Instead, he was writing content for the company’s flagship publication, Boardroom Reports.

Since Mel loved writing ads, content wasn’t something he enjoyed doing. So he had to find a way to make his writing assignments more interesting. His fix was simple: why not create a table of contents (TOC) but write in a way that was similar to how he wrote ads.

Every morning, after having read through the entire newsletter, Mel would work on the TOC. And when he was finished, he’d hand it over to Marty.

Of the TOC that Mel wrote, Marty said, “Each contents page was a glittering jewel, far and away better than the rest of the magazine.”

And this is how fascinations were born.

What’s a fascination you ask?

A fascination is a short sentence (or two) designed to conjure up intense curiosity and compel a reader to act. Think of them as bulleted copy … but on steroids.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

  • How to deduct all your medical bills without first subtracting 7.5% of gross income. Lots of people do it and never get in trouble. What’s more, their ploy is perfectly legal.
  • Quick look at a sticker price plus simple arithmetic reveals the minimum figure a car dealer will accept.
  • Two famous cold remedies that make you sicker if taken together.
  • Very short letter in a sealed envelope attached to your will could be the most important letter you ever write.
  • What surgeons won’t tell you. Seven questions to ask before consenting to an operation.

Mel changed copywriting forever. Because just one of his fascinations could be enough to pique curiosity and have prospects ordering. With Mel’s new copy tactic, Boardroom soared to $100 million in revenues.

Using fascinations is like having a secret weapon you can use to fix boring passages of copy and turn them into something your reader wants to know more about.

A simple way to write a fascination is to ask yourself this question, “What if I say it in a way that has more meaning?”

Then re-write your sentence so that it feels more exciting or conveys an emotion.

Let me show you how to do this with a few examples.

What if example #1:
Ordinary copy: Interest rate hikes will cause a housing crisis.
Meaningful copy: Central bank plot to seize your home.

What if example #2:
Ordinary copy: Diet pill helps you lose weight.
Meaningful copy: This secret formula turns fat into muscle.

What if example #3:
Ordinary copy: Selling stock to make money
Meaningful copy: Here’s a proven way to create money out of thin air.

Not only does this help you write stronger sentences, but it also helps you write stand-out headlines, sub-heads … even subject lines for emails.

Heck, you can even use this technique to help improve the content on your client’s website.

You can take their ordinary copy and content and turn it into something readers can’t help but read.

Another thing that happens when you practice writing more meaningful copy or fascinations is you just get better at writing. That’s because they require clarity … tightness.

It takes practice to write fascinations but it’s worth your time. Because clients want copywriters who know these kind of writing details will help them get more customers and more sales.

The AWAI Method™

The AWAI Method™ for Becoming a Skilled, In-Demand Copywriter

The AWAI Method™ combines the most up-to-date strategies, insights, and teaching methods with the tried-and-true copywriting fundamentals so you can take on ANY project — not just sales letters. Learn More »

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Published: April 2, 2024

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