Saturday Writing Critique #8

Quick, hide the split infinitives! There’s a Writing Critique on the loose!

Yes, it’s that time again, and today Abigail, of Piedras del Cardenal, is in our sights. She’s another fabulous jewelry maker with plenty of hip chainmaille pieces to browse.

But Abigail’s descriptions give me the perfect opportunity to discuss something that plagues Etsy writing: Technical terms.

Here’s the very first sentence of Abigail’s description for a pair of eye-grabbing loop earrings – please raise your hand if you see a word you don’t know:


Four blue anodized aluminum circles are linked with the smallest possible doubled links of golden yellow aluminum, and hung on hypoallergenic anodized niobium hooks.


Uh, are your hands raised? Mine are. Let’s look at the whole thing:


Four blue anodized aluminum circles are linked with the smallest possible doubled links of golden yellow aluminum, and hung on hypoallergenic anodized niobium hooks. These have a retro feel to them; though the color is all wrong, they remind me of the famous Nelson Marshmallow Sofa of the fifties.

The niobium wires are safe for virtually everyone, sensitive skin or not, and the earrings weigh practically nothing. They are good for wearing for long days, or for a young girl who wants something dangly and stylish. The total length is 2-1/8 inches (55 mm).

The niobium wire color is not as different from the aluminum as it appears in some of the images, though the anodizing on the two metals is different. The aluminum is royal blue with a bit of a peacock-blue tint, and the niobium is steel blue, not violet as in some shots. (That pink workbox top was reflecting upward and affecting the shades, I think.)


Whew! I understand that Abigail is trying to give the educated buyer vital info. But it’s leaving the rest of us out in the dark.

Don’t get me wrong, technical terms are fine in descriptions. But they require at least one or two well-chosen words of introduction. (Oh, and jewelers? This includes “swarovski crystals”! It took weeks of hanging around the Etsy forums before I had a clue what those are!).

Now, there’s plenty of info in Abigail’s description that would make an attractive “lede.” Let’s get that stuff out front. In the newspaper biz, we always put the most interesting and important information at the beginning of the story, and pack the end with details that only the most intrepid readers want to know. For Abigail, technical terms should go after the first sentence (with brief definitions, please!) for more discerning buyers.

Here’s my rewrite (with some help from Wikipedia):


These feather-light blue earrings have a hot retro feel! The interlocking hoops remind me of the famous 1950’s Nelson Marshmallow Sofa.

These are perfect for super-sensitive ears because the hoops are made from a non-irritating, hypoallergenic metal called niobium.

Dangling at just over 2 inches (55 mm), each earring is comprised of linked peacock-blue and gold aluminum hoops.

Perfect for that long day at the office!


You may notice that I left out a LOT, including nearly the entire last paragraph. Personally, I think if a buyer is really concerned about anodizing, they’ll ask directly. Also, we don’t need the explanation of the different colors against different backgrounds – I think the pictures are clear.

Please do think about buyers who may know absolutely nada about your craft. A well-placed word of explanation can invite, teach and excite!

I hope this helps, Abigail! Happy sales!


Interested in a critique focusing on language and writing? You’ve come to the right place! You must leave a comment on THIS blog post to be considered for next week! (Even if you have volunteered on a previous week!)


Published in: on June 21, 2008 at 12:45 am  Comments (20)  

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20 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. This is a GREAT series! Thanks so much!
    Please feel free to critique my lack of writing skills 🙂

  2. That really opened my eyes about my chainmaille pieces! I will be a little more aware about the technical terms I use, so I can promote and not confuse! 🙂

  3. Love your style and read some of you descriptions, I just don’t know how you do it, what a gift to have. I Would love you to look at mine, they are bad I know that, but my creative streak does not strech that far.

  4. first of all i’m glad you are back, and again so sorry about the family tragedy!

    second…love your critique and you are right on…she has beautiful designs that are lost in the descriptions.

    third…please critique me! i so need something to get this ball rolling!

    thanks! 🙂

  5. Great suggestions. I do ceramics, jewelry and wood, so I bet you’ll have some good ideas for my desriptions!! Looking forward to hearing from you.

  6. Thanks for continuing these critiques. They are very informative and fun to read. Plus I get to see new shops!! Great idea!

  7. This is a great series with great advice! Feel free to give me a helping hand on my descriptions. I’m always at a loss for words when it comes to describing (and naming) my own products.


  8. Once again, a very helpful critique. These are things I never really noticed or thought about before. It is great to read about these details. Thank you for all you do.

  9. That was much more succinct and interesting to read.

  10. Great post – thank you!

  11. Actually, I’m much more confused about the marshmallow sofa – what it is and what the heck it has to do with jewelry. But then again, I also knew about niobium way before I made jewelry as I hung with the body piercings crowd and niobium is well known among them.

    I really like how you made the description more succinct and relevant for everyone.

  12. You know I always learn something from your re-write articles Amy, but this one was a topper. I’m notorious for putting in “Swarovski crystals” and had no idea that it should be a no-no. Thanks again for a fab write up!

  13. I have just added text about how I make my earrings(to the end of the description) and would love for you to take a look at them. I haven’t added them to evertyhing in the shop. I try not to get beyond descriptive -and I and terribly guilty of just putting “Swarovski” in the materials section. I guess I thought it was a household name!


  14. You made those earrings sound superb!!! I would love some help with my listings! Writing is not really my thing!!! Go Amy!!!

  15. Wow – I go away from the computer for a day, and look! I got a proposed makeover! Thanks, Amy. I’ll take your suggestions and go over some of my other descriptions. I know I try to explain too much. But it’s really hard to find a balance between leaving people wondering exactly what’s in the picture, and overwhelming them with TMI.

    Olivia – the sofa really has nothing to do with the earrings, it’s just that they remind me of it — an icon of the fifties — I put a photo of it as the last image in the listing.

    Thanks again,

  16. Hi Amy, you have really a great sense of reader’s mind. After your little amendment, all description seems so easy to read and understand.. and has that little force to push the buying erge. 🙂

    Please help me to amend my description. thank you so much.


  17. Wow! You really cleaned that up. This is a definate case of TMI, to be honest I stopped reading the original after “anodized aluminum”. Good rewrite! Clear, concise and catchy. Please do me! 🙂


  18. Really nice review! I could use some helps. Thank you!

  19. Wow, that was a great re-write! I learn so much from your critiques. Now come and help me. 🙂


  20. As always, I am impressed!

    I implore you, to please visit my super long and possibly very annoying descriptions and help me out!

    I love reading your re-writes, very effective.

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