You wouldn't immediately think a novelist would have great advice on business writing, especially not writing a case study. But then you talk to an actual novelist and realise she's exactly who you should have been speaking to all along -- if you want your case studies to be read.
I interviewed award-winning novelist Claire Scobie. Claire gave me a stack of tips anyone writing as part of their job could start using immediately to improve their business writing.
But what stood out were her five specific pieces of advice for using some novelist's techniques to make your case studies readable.
1. Make it real
Turn that case study into a real person with even the smallest amount of description, such as their real name and title. People love names; people love being described exactly in the role they are playing. And we are we going to connect to that person with the real name in a much stronger way.
2. Bring it to life
See how you can bring that person to life using the tips above then think about products and services to which you can add a little bit of colour.
You can also think about emotions. Is there anywhere bringing in a particular emotion with the basic text? Can you give an impact on a customer? How did the customer react to what you did? Delighted? Surprised? Overwhelmed?
3. Don’t ignore time, place and body
A lot of business writing is basically above the head: it’s all about what’s going on in the mind, and it’s not anchored in the body. Bring your writing back to moments, concrete events.
4. Use genuine dialogue
Real people speak in real sentences. Even little quotations can be a way to a description because as soon as you have dialogue, you are bringing in another voice, and you are authenticating whatever it is you are saying. When you use dialogue, you’re not paraphrasing.
Lastly, is there anywhere you can bring in anything unanticipated, something unexpected. As soon as you do that with how you craft something that’s story, you’re giving the reader what it is they are hoping for: spice.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. My entire conversation with Claire is packed with advice about giving your corporate writing a splash of colour to make it stand out.
You'll find more about Claire at Wordstruck.