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Why reading literature will help you produce better content

It’s commonly said that to be a good fiction writer, you need to read a lot of fiction. But, what about marketing content writers?

Of course, they are encouraged to read a lot of other marketing content. However, reading literature can also be hugely beneficial for a content writer’s craft and ability to communicate effectively with their business audience.

Reading the right literature can absolutely improve your marketing skills. Read on to learn which types of literature can help you improve which marketing muscles.

Literary fiction improves empathy

For marketing content writers, the ability to creatively empathise with their target audience is advantageous to their creative practice and business results.

Fiction – when written well (but that’s another blog) – holds a huge amount of power. It can take you around the globe, even to other worlds and – perhaps most importantly – inside the minds of other characters.

Experiencing a character’s emotional journey, and becoming invested in their choices and events, can be a massively empathic experience for a reader.

In terms of improving your empathy skills, what you choose to read is vital. Literary fiction specifically will help in a way that other realms of literature probably won’t.

Unlike many types of genre fiction, literary fiction tends to be character based, rather than plot based. This emphasis on character and – often – universal human experience, means that readers are more likely to become emotionally close to the characters, rather than following the book for a fast-paced storyline.

Poetry develops clearness and accuracy

When it comes to clearness and accuracy, poetry is your friend. To craft content that engages your customers, a strong grasp of linguistics is vital.

Poetry – in all its many forms – thrives on being exact. There’s an often talked-about phenomenon in poetry circles – a poet spent all morning trying to decide whether a comma was needed in a specific place, put it in at lunchtime, and then in the afternoon, removed it again.

While we’re not recommending spending an entire day of content marketing considering the appropriateness of a comma, the story makes the point that decisions like these are paramount in conveying the intended message, whether that’s in a poem or in a piece of web copy.

Poetry is also largely centred on structure. Different poets work in different ways. Some start out the process of a new piece knowing that they want to write in a sonnet, for example.

Others begin with a central concept and allow the poem to choose its own form, be that including an iambic rhyming scheme, free verse, or something else altogether. It’s important to give thought to the structure of your marketing content.

Good poetry (yes, good – again, this is another blog) contains carefully considered language, no more words than are necessary, and is void of cliché and preciousness. Reading poetry will help you create concise, colourful, and authentic content for your clients.

The classics teach storytelling skills

Classics aren’t to everyone’s taste, and I fully respect that. I would never advocate reading a book that you didn’t enjoy – life is too short.

However, there are hundreds of books that have become important parts of our culture, and with good reason. Almost daily, we’re faced with something to do with a Shakespeare play, or a Jane Austen story. Many of these – and others – have been adapted into countless movies and other art forms.

These stories have survived – and remained popular – over centuries because of their storytelling structures. They’re emotionally satisfying to readers.

Whichever of the nine or so (and there is considerable debate about how many there really are) narrative structures they follow, be it the tragedy, the hero’s journey, stranger comes to town, or something else, the author has followed a formula, and the formula works.

The stories build tension over just the right amount of time before releasing it. Readers are kept guessing but also being allowed to work out the twist seconds before its revealed. The endings are inevitable, but not always expected.

Satisfying stories make readers feel clever and empowered – this is storytelling skill is just as vital for marketing content.

Magical realism hones abstract thinking

Magical realism is often confused with fantasy – however, while there is crossover between some magical realist texts and some fantasy texts, there are stark differences between them as genres.

Fantasy stories are based in invented, unreal worlds, often featuring mythical creatures or somehow “unreal” people. Magical realist stories, on the other hand, are set in realistic “normal-world” settings that we all recognise but contain elements or events that are inexplicable to our day-to-day experience.

Reading can help a content marketer to think more abstractly. Often in magical realism, the “strange” elements are in fact metaphors within the story, played out as if they are tangible, real events.

Seeing these metaphors appear in such a literal (non-metaphorical) demonstrates how to present often mundane information to your clients in a fresh, palatable way.

Get in touch

For content writers, reading can help in many ways. It enhances empathy, storytelling skills, language precision, and can open your mind to presenting information in new and interesting ways.

If you’d like to find out how we can help you generate content that really engages with your audience, please email [email protected] or call 0115 8965 300.

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