Thursday, November 22, 2007

Cliche machine

I work as a real estate agent. Part of my job is writing the blurbs for property advertisements. This is a task which I had thought, before I started attempting it, that I would be quite good at. It turns out, I'm not yet. For some reason, when writing real estate, I turn into a cliche machine.

It's possible that because there are only so many words and ways to describe a house, everything that can possibly be said already has been. I scour the thesaurus, looking for alternatives to "spacious" or "comfortable" or "cosy" or "large". Even the alternatives are overused.

Another problem is that you are writing for the lowest common denominator, and you hit trouble if you deviate too far from common vocabulary. For example, my friend who is a well-educated and eloquent man, sent me a text message the other day after reading a competitor's ad in the Real Estate Guide. Charlotte's in fine form this weekend. What the fuck is a "timeless inglenook"?

I spend all afternoon trying to paint a picture with words, trying to sound original and enticing, and within 90-120 word count. It is a lot more difficult than I ever expected it would be.


Birdie said...

Hey, thanks for visiting my blog this morning. :) Those big animals were bison, which is just the American version of buffalo. I know what you mean about timeless inglenooks and whatnot. I write for the local paper, and I have the same issues. How can you say something fresh, exciting, yet accessible? I used to write copy for a car sales lot, and that was tough work. I will definitely continue to stop by your blog. Best, Birdie


Hey, I had a job for about a year writing copy for a real estate advertising paper. Most real estate buyers know and look for all the buzz words (i.e.: cozy means cramped; handy-man's dream means a wreck), so you might as well use them. You'll only confuse people by trying too hard to be different or creative. Save your creativity for your novel about a crazy young realtor who has zany adventures down under.

WORDofRYE said...

This is why I failed at copy writing. I totally feel your pain!

Neil said...

So, you are the evil one making the shack sound like a mansion!

Ann said...

I once worked as a leasing agent for an apartment complex. We used those same terms while showing apartments. I don't think there's a way around it.

Don't let it get you down.