"The dictionary is black and white. We operate in the greys of feeling, inclination, emotion, persuasion."
Reading that a few days ago, it occurred to me: That's why thesaurus.com is always open on my desktop.
Because that's where, instead of black-and-white definitions, you find all the variegated shades of a word. For writers, the thesaurus serves the same function as an art director or designer's PMS Book.
Does a client know how to help their customers, or do they understand what their customers need?
Should customers call to discuss things further, or would it be better if they did something more human and reach out?
Will they have the option to add more services, or the freedom? And can they do it later, or down the road?
Small choices, true. And they will each go unnoticed by anyone reading the finished letter package or self-mailer. But their cumulative effect, like the mythical naked lady in the ice cube, will be real no matter how unperceived: creating a more empathetic, approachable and empowering image of our client. Even the phrase down the road, besides the virtue of being more tangible, implies an ongoing relationship - one in which customers can count on our client to be there with them.
"A work of art," wrote Joseph Conrad, "must carry its
justification in every line." Ok, so we're not exactly making Art.
But every line of what we write does need to justify itself - to
have a reason for being there. Otherwise we're just wasting the
target's time and the client's money. Choosing the right shade of
the right word is a big part of that.
And yes, you're right. I used thesaurus.com while writing this.