5 Things Content Marketers Can Learn from Fiction Writers

Learn 5 amazing writing tactics that fiction writers use to make their content more powerful and engaging to their readers.

5 Things Content Marketers Can Learn from Fiction Writers

When done right, content marketing is an incredibly powerful tool. Marketers who prioritize blogging over other strategies, for example, are 13 times more likely to see a positive ROI. In order to get optimal results, however, content marketing has to be strategically planned.


Content creation in a digital world has its own rules. Still, marketers can learn a lot from traditional text masters like fiction writers.


Here are some of the most powerful lessons for digital content creators based on the experience of fiction writers.


1. Strong Words Make the Message

While a good idea is vital, the words that you use to dress this idea are even more crucial.


Use action words and avoid the passive tense in your campaigns if you want to copy to be dynamic, impactful and engaging.


Hemingway is a master when it comes to putting together impactful texts. You can learn a lot by going through his work and finding inspiration in the master’s powerful style.


Here’s a simple example to illustrate the importance of action words in marketing content creation.


Consider the following two sentences:

“By going on a date, David finally feels happy” and “Going on a date brought happiness in David’s life.” The first one isn’t concrete, it lacks strength and conviction. The second sentence makes use of an action verb, which instantly changes the vibe of the message.


2. Show, Don’t Tell

Anyone who has taken a fiction writing class knows that the number one rule of creating quality texts is show, don’t tell.


There’s a big difference between “the grass is green” and “she could feel the wetness and succulence of the grass under her bare feet.” While the second phrase doesn’t tell the reader the grass is green, they could nearly imagine its lushness and freshness.


This rule is very much applicable to copywriting.


People don’t want to read about your amazing or breakthrough product. In fact, these are words you should never feature in the texts you draft. Instead, focus on the features and the innovative technologies incorporated in the design that make a product extra-special.


Avoid adverbs and large descriptive phrases. Keep it focused and highlight the attributes that are most impactful.


It’s possible to show instead of telling while still keeping your promotional point focused and to the point.


You can find a bit more information and examples of the rule here.


3. Learn from Other Writers

In order to become amazing wordsmiths, fiction writers engage in a lot of reading.


Finding inspiration in the work of others is one of the essentials, if you want to improve your writing style and experiment with different techniques.


Get in the habit of reading a lot.


Read fiction, read online articles, blog posts and industry white papers.


Read poetry, autobiographies and humorous texts. You never know where your next source of inspiration is going to come from.


4. Conflict Is Essential

Conflict is the number one thing that makes a story work and gives it purpose.


Even if you’re creating a brief paragraph for a content marketing campaign, you should still discover the one focal point of conflict.


Conflict allows for a buildup. What is a protagonist dreaming for and trying to achieve? What’s standing in their way? What difficult situation does a hero have to overcome in order to emerge stronger on the other end?


Digital copy doesn’t need to have such a dramatic conflict but you still need a point that will allow the story to progress.


Say you’re writing digital content for a dating website called DoULike. Your protagonist is Anna. She’s shy due to the fact that she was bullied extensively in high school. As a result, Anna doesn’t date. She went out on a date once and it was a massive disaster. Here’s the conflict. The resolution comes in the form of online dating – a simple tool that Anna can rely on to connect with other human beings.


5. Clichés and Fillers Suck!

Often, writers who have a certain number of words to produce will opt for fillers and clichés phrases to get the correct word count.


That’s a massive mistake and most fiction writers know that filler content can kill a novel or a story.


Details are great when they’re meaningful, they build the environment or they add to the richness of the situation.


If you’re writing about the greenness of the grass, the detail should be there to enrich the story. Maybe you want to contrast the greenery with the sterile greyness of urban settings. In that instance, adding the detail will make sense. If you just want to have a flowery texts filled with descriptions, you should think twice.


Every single sentence should provide the reader with information. A sentence that doesn’t serve a specific purpose should simply be left out.


The same applies to clichés. Many writers turn to them because they’re comfortable and readily accessible. A cliché, however, isn’t going to surprise, engage or please the reader. You’re much better off spending time on finding something original to say.


Empty, meaningless words interfere with the action, they dilute the conflict and make the resolution anti-climactic. Don’t try to hit a word count. Stop when you’re done saying what you want to say. Even if you have to negotiate the length change with a client, you’ll at least be confident in the quality of the copy you’re delivering.