COPY AND SAVE
Friday, February 26, 2021 - daily column #6680
Nora Ephron frequently championed her mother’s mantra about writing: “Everything is copy.”
By that, she explained the things that happen, things we see and hear – should be captured. They might not provide a twist, an anecdote, a funny line, or a powerful premise for something we writing next week, next year, or a decade from now. I’ve been more observant and a better ‘make a note of that on paper’ thanks to that great advice. Making a mental note of anything, on the other hand, is far less reliable than it used to be. It’s probably not even the reliability factor that has changed as much as it might be the illusion that I used to remember well. But, before I go off on a memory acuity failure tangents …
I think a turnabout on Nora’s mom’s mantra is warranted.
Copy is everything.
Ask any writer. They’ll confirm it.
An idea is a great place to start – but from the concept idea to the manuscript, from book to TV to movie, to holding the Oscar or the Pulitzer – the magic is not the story, but the storytelling.
If these nearly 18 years have taught me, and a loyal following of readers seems to keep proving the point, it is that nobody wants a diary recitation of yesterday’s events and foibles, failed-date stories, or a repetitive peevish soapbox rant on any particular subject. Of course, they have their place, but those elements are the punctuation – the spread and the pepper for sure, but that’s not the meat in the sandwich.
The meat is the takeaway message, the something you sink your teeth into – the ah+ha moment that gets enhanced by the secret sauce.
Copy is everything.
This begs the question, is this characteristic translatable and relatable to anything else for anyone else?
I think a well-written pitch letter is only valuable if it gets read, but a poor one fails whether it is read or not.
Smart people, hardworking people, know their work – and would never talk about it falsely, incompletely, or using lazy language. Writers need to observe the same rules …