Adopt Rules of Fiction in your Next Press Release

Although press releases are primarily nonfiction (we hope), there are some rules of fiction that can enhance your writing. Such literary devices used in fiction as plot, movement, intrigue, dialogue, setting, and characterization can be effective in non-fiction as well.Plot moves a story. It’s not just words going in a linear direction. There should be action and movement. For example, if your press release is about a new medication thought up by an inventive veterinarian to cure cat lethargy, let the story of how it happened unfold. Maybe he was feeding his own cat a vitamin combined with fish oil to pep her up and all of a sudden the cat started running around chasing shadows and leaping over fences. Give the cat a name and tell the story, including how the cat reacted. Granted, this is an exaggeration but essentially, it’s plot. It has a beginning, action and an end. Movement is the progress from beginning to end of the story. Intrigue is how the veterinarian discovered a cure for cat lethargy just by feeding his own cat fish oil and a vitamin. Dialogue might, for example, occur when quoting experts such as scientists, researchers, CEO’s and the like. Make them speak in a conversational tone. Oftentimes quotes sound stiff and unnatural as if the speaker is reading from a dictionary. The result is equally stultifying. For example, John Smith, senior researcher for the firm said, “The machinations of the omnipress are primarily dependent upon the luminators.” Instead, John Smith said, “Gee, these presses get most of their juice from the inside lighting.” Notice it doesn’t change meaning but it makes it more reader friendly.We get a sense of John Smith’s personality from his words. This is characterization. Setting can be achieved by creating a scene that is visual. For example: John Smith smiled as he lifted the cover of his prized omnipress. We looked at the whirring guts of the giant machine that took up the entire workroom of the battered old building. In this case setting helps readers see rather than just hear.Try using these devices in your next press release. Just keep them short and pithy so as not to detract from the message. These devices should be used as seasoning, not the main course.

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