Pour some coffee, folks, and wake up for this week’s installment of the Saturday Etsy Writing Critiques! (Or should I say really, really early Sunday morning critiques?)
This week Janet, of Trinkets N Whatnots, is under the microscope. Her shop features a huge array of eye-catching rings and jewelry, as well as a few of those “whatnots” thrown in!
But while Janet’s jewelry definitely calls out for attention, her product descriptions set my eyes wandering. All the components are there, but Janet needs some adjustments in order to tie her writing together into a readable, attractive package.
Let’s take a glance at her description for a bold, black and purple pendant:
This is a gorgeous, and unique porcelain pendant that has purple and pearl colors. The purple outlines an Orchid looking, delicate flower.
The necklace is made out of wood beads that has purple hues in it to compliment the pendant. A magnetic barrel clasp is used to finish this necklace.
Item ships next business day via priority mail flat rate, 4.80
If paying by personal check or money order the item will ship upon payment being received.
Thanks for looking.
When I look at Janet’s writing, I see puzzle pieces. There is plenty of information there, but the words don’t seem to fit together. It makes me want to take it all apart and rearrange it (thank goodness I’m allowed to!).
Let’s start with the first sentence. It begins well – I do like buying gorgeous things! But it ends in a fizzle. I don’t really need to be told that purple and pearl are colors, that’s not a whole lot of new or interesting information. Mentioning the colors is important, but they don’t need to be emphasized. As a buyer, I can already see them in the photo. Let’s save the end of sentence one for something with a little more “oomph.”
On to sentence two. To be perfectly honest, the phrase “Orchid looking, delicate flower” sounds wishy-washy to me. Save the fear of commitment for your boyfriend and let’s just say it’s a “delicate Orchid.”
In the third sentence there are two distracting grammatical errors. The first, more serious, is the mismatched verb. It should read “beads that have,” not, “beads that has.” This error actually makes the sentence difficult to comprehend, since it’s not obvious at first glance what “has” the purple hues. The second, minor error is the mix-up of compliment and complement (I’m guilty of this on occasion as well!). In a nutshell: “I’m trying to give you a compliment when I say that feather boa really complements your outfit.”
Passive tense undercuts the fourth sentence, and should be avoided when possible. Actually, “is used to finish” could simply be condensed to “finishes.” This brings me to a point about verbs. There are a lot of them out there. Don’t rely on ho-hum verbs like “is” and “has,” when action verbs can bring much more pizazz to your writing. Would you rather buy wooden beads that glow with a purple hue, or ones that have a purple hue?
And a note about “unique”: Please don’t use it. Every hand-crafted item is unique the way every kid is “special.” It may be true, but the word itself has been rendered meaningless. If you’re stuck, turn to a trusty friend.
Here’s my rewrite:
This head-turning necklace features a bold purple and pearl-colored Orchid pendent.
It hangs from a string of daring geometric wood beads. The beads glow with a purple hue, perfectly complementing the gorgeous centerpiece. The necklace finishes with an easy-to-use magnetic barrel clasp.
All my work ships the next business day via priority mail flat rate, $4.80.
If paid by personal check or money order, the piece will ship when payment is received.
Thanks for looking.
I noticed that Janet didn’t include any information about the focal bead itself, besides the color. It looks like metal but I’m left wondering what kind. As a person with sensitive skin, I think that’s important. [EDIT: Actually, she did. She said it was porcelain, and I was too half-asleep to notice! My bad.]
I did change the shipping information a tiny bit, as well. The word “item” sounds so sterile when referring to handcrafted work, so I try to avoid it.
I hope this helps, Janet! Many happy sales!
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