We break a piece of writing into ‘beats’ or units of thought. In the most powerful persuasive writing, there are about five or six different types of beat and they almost always occur in a particular order. The course is designed to train participants to recognise those beats, feel the correct order and see how it all comes together in the best writing. We use this approach to look at speeches by Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King, copy by Saatchi, and a song by Prince. We see how these pieces all persuade and inspire, call out a problem and arrest your attention seemingly in the same effortless, linear flow.
One of the consequences of this work is that very often a writer realises that they’ve been driving on a very partial set of cylinders. Maybe they’ve never used the last beat or, worse still have been hobbling around on barely two of the five or six possible different beats.
The reason numbingly monotonous writing is the way that it is, becomes instantly clear. It’s a great “ah ha” moment for may, and one that guarantees a breakthrough in their level of writing skill.
Whatever they’ve been doing, it will certainly be the end of random copy and pasting; it didn’t work for Francis Wilson (see below) and it’s unlikely to work for you.