Before you craft your next message, take a look at these and enjoy.
“When you are telling stories, have a point. It makes it much more interesting for the listener.” Planes, Trains and Automobiles, 1987
“Don’t use seven words when four will do.” Oceans Eleven, 2001
“Learning to listen, that takes a lot of discipline.” Forever Strong, 2008
“Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking.” Wizard of Oz, 1939
“Avoid using the word very because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he’s exhausted. He’s not very sad, he’s morose. Language was invented for one reason, to woo women. And in that endeavor, laziness will never do.” Dead Poet’s Society, 1997
“The Internet’s not written in pencil, Mark. It’s written in ink.” The Social Network, 2010
“Whoever tells the best story, wins.” Amistad, 1997
“You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is to write, not to think.” Finding Forester, 2000
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962
Everybody has to sell a little. You’re selling them this idea of you, you know, you’re sort of saying trust me, I’m, um, credible.” Broadcast News, 1987
I’ve recently rediscovered an element of my life that was an essential part of my day from the ages of 9 to 14. It’s a comic strip that I’ve come to realize is as enduring a piece of art as I’ve ever known. Its impact is just as powerful today at my age of 27 as it was when I was 9 (albeit in a different way). And for that, I’d like to thank Bill Watterson for creating a boy named Calvin and his stuffed tiger/loyal companion, Hobbes.
I remember my first time meeting Calvin and Hobbes. It was 1996, I was in 3rd grade, and the whole school was excited because the Scholastic Book Fair was going on all week in the library. Usually, I would just browse the sports posters, picking out the coolest looking Atlanta Braves or Falcons stuff. But a certain Calvin and Hobbes book, “There’s Treasure Everywhere,” caught my eye. After flipping through just a couple pages, I knew I had to bring it home. Not only could I understand it, it was funny. I mean, what kid doesn’t relate to Calvin? I haven’t met one.
I spent years with Calvin and Hobbes. I started collecting all of Watterson’s books, reading and rereading each and every one. Calvin, Hobbes and I had all kinds of adventures — sledding down treacherous hills, pelting the girl (ick!) next door with snowballs, and even transmogrifying ourselves. It was all great fun. And I’m happily realizing that it still is.
Examining Watterson’s comics can teach us some key lessons for any kind of writing we do:
People remember stories. I’ve always loved sports, especially as a kid during my peak with Calvin and Hobbes. That said, I couldn’t tell you how many games the Braves won in 1996. But I can tell you about when Calvin turned his Transmorgrifier into a Duplicator.
Marry your content with the medium. Watterson could’ve written books for a living. He could have had art pieces hanging respected galleries. Instead, he chose comic strips, despite being mocked by critics as a “low art,” because it’s the best way he could bring his characters to life.
Shine through in your content. Despite the fact that Bill Watterson hasn’t made a public appearance in more than a decade, his content is still very personable. Writing for business doesn’t mean spewing corporate jargon. Readers are comforted when they feel a human connection with the author.
These three tips are a sure-fire way to help you engage your readers, making the content all the more valuable and memorable. It’s the reason why Calvin and Hobbes still resonates with so many people, no matter their age or reading level.