A cartoonist’s guide to writing with clarity

The road to blogging madness is paved with good intentions.  I fully intended to take a stretch this month and add an “interview” format to the Confident Writing mix.  I was going to interview someone who writes cartoon captions on the application of his approach for writing with clarity.
It was a good idea – and I am determined to get round to the call (and the interview format)…  soon.

Fortunately said caption writer was good enough to send me some gems (and a cartoon!) before we got as far as talking – and with his permission I decided to use them here anyway.

So, without further ado, it’s over to Brad Shorr.

Lessons from the art of cartooning – a non-interview

Joanna’s question:

What similarities can you see between cartooning and writing with clarity?

Brad’s answers:

  • Cartooning is an excellent example of clarity in action
  • You don’t need a lot of words to make your point.  This cartoon - my favourite creation - has no caption at all.
  • Clients often want to throw too many ideas and detail into a cartoon.  Never works.
  • Clients sometimes forget that cartoons need a punch line.  Instead what they ask for is really an illustration with a lengthy caption or word balloon.  No punch line equals no point equals no interest.
  • Cartooning is all about boiling an idea and a drawing down to the essentials.  Cartooning is truly a process of elimination

Thanks Brad!  I think we did a not bad job of boiling down the words and extracting the essentials – but I still hope we get round to the call before too long.

You can find out more about the cartoons Brad creates for business over at his Word Sell blog – plenty of cartoons to dip into there too.

What questions would you like to ask cartoonists and caption writers about what we can learn from their art?

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2 Responses to “A cartoonist’s guide to writing with clarity”

  1. On October 30, 2007 at 8:21 pm Brad Shorr responded with... #

    Joanna, The New Yorker has a cartoon caption website that’s a lot of fun -

    You can vote for your favorite captions and give it a try yourself!

  2. On October 31, 2007 at 8:45 am Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Thanks for the tip Brad - might be another fun way to sharpen our pencils!



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