Writing is like driving.

From A to B, uneducated to informed, ambivalence to desire, immobility to action – the goal is always the same: get somewhere. Or, to be more precise, take someone else there.

Either way, writing or driving, it’s a journey. Along the way it’s important to always make sure the passenger is comfortable and enjoys the ride.

My father taught me about placing the passenger at the center of the experience when I was 14 and had my learner’s permit. He kept his patience, somehow, as I slammed us through a thousand jerky starts and chin-to-dashboard stops. “The safety and comfort of your passengers are your responsibility,” he told me. “Begin slowing for stops early so they’re never pressed into their safety belts. Don’t slam their backs into the seats with quick starts. Make easy turns instead of jags.” And then there was the statement that tied it all together: “Do all of it right, and they’ll forget they’re in a vehicle at all.”

Readers are like those passengers.

Reading a piece – whether we’re talking about a novel, a brochure or a PR story – should never be a struggle. The product of a good writer is so smooth that readers are completely unaware of how difficult it was to make it flow, with no bumps in the road. The best writers paint scenes so vivid that readers see pictures pass before their
minds’ windshields. And when its done right, passengers forget they’re even on a ride.

From where I’m sitting, writing can be much more fun than driving. From time to time, for effect, writers can purposely force passengers into that jerky start, through the stop-short revelation, over an eye-opening turn of phrase. They can rush their passengers beyond the screeching burst of rapid-fire clauses, hit a pause that makes them glance in the rear view, or swerve in ways that screw their hairdos straight up into the ceiling upholstery.

But only if it makes sense for delivering the message, because the goal is still the same: get them to where you want them to be.

IRONCLAD’S writers strive to take our clients’ readers on that ride, keep them interested and wanting to go farther down the road, nudge them deeper into valuable relationships with our clients. And when all is said and read, we want them to think, “Oh, are we there already?”

Sure are.

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