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Freelance Writing for Greeting Cards:
Writing Hints

Two fundamental questions to keep in mind when writing greeting card verse: "Would I buy this?" and "Would I like to receive this?"

Watch limiting the salability of a verse

"I" and "we" - When you write using these pronouns, you've limited the salability of the card. For instance, copy that says "We wish you a happy birthday" would not work if sent by just one person. Sentiments can usually be written to fit one sender, or more than one sender. Write "Wishing you a happy birthday" - that works for everyone.

However, there are times when "I" is preferable - such as in the case of close friendship or romantic love cards. And there are exceptions for the use of "we." It is more natural, for instance, to say "We wish you a Merry Christmas."

Tone - Defined as "manner of expression in speech or writing," it is important to know what tone to use at what times. Different tones might be serious, humorous, conversational, light-hearted, etc. Sometimes the editor will request a certain tone, but often you're on your own. Hint: there are occasions when humor just doesn't work.

Slang, localisms, etc. - Simple and natural writing is what sells most of the time. If you're from Alabama and you think a card with "Y'all" as part of the copy is a good idea, remember that someone in Oregon might not get it.

Other Considerations

Alliteration - Alliteration is the repetition of the same sounds or of the same kinds of sounds at the beginning of words or in stressed syllables. One example is "World Wide Web."

It's been said when all else fails, use alliteration. And it's often true. Saying "super smile" works much better than "great smile" or "wonderful smile."

Clichés - By definition a cliché is a trite or overused expression. Enough said.

Metaphor, Simile, and Allegory - All three are similar - thinking about one thing and the similarity to or symbolism of another thing. These are often used in greeting card writing and are very effective.

  • metaphor - A phrase that says something is something else. Example: "A sea of troubles."
  • simile - When two unlike things are compared. Example: "Life is like chocolate."
  • allegory - Using something to mean something else. Example: Using a box of chocolates to symbolize life.

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