How Writing Fiction Makes You a Better Copywriter

Mindy McHorse

A lot of people seem to think copywriting and fiction writing are two separate worlds, never to be crossed.

But in fact, the opposite is true. The two intersect and support each other.

Meaning, if you want to be a great copywriter, it helps if you read or write fiction. And if you want to be a great fiction writer, it just makes sense to learn copywriting.

After all, the two complement each other in loads of ways …

For starters, copywriting emphasizes the importance of writing conversationally and at an easy-to-understand reading level.

The most popular fiction books are written in the same way.

Copywriting can be about telling a story, or about drawing an emotion out of a reader till they’re captivated by the topic and want to know more.

Fiction does the same thing.

Fiction, on the other hand, helps you define what it means to write in a certain voice. Any good copywriter knows the benefit of that skill.

Fiction focuses on grabbing and holding a reader’s attention. That’s a good goal for any copywriter to have.

Also, in both fiction and copywriting, the old adage applies: “Write what you know.” So in both worlds, if you can focus your writing on things you relate to at an emotional level, then your writing is bound to be stronger.

On top of that, both fiction and copywriting need to kick off with a good hook. Both aim to make people feel key emotions. Both are made stronger if you write them and then take a step back for a few days.

Finally, you’ll be stronger in both areas if you read good fiction and good copywriting every day. You’ll be even stronger in both areas if you write every day. (Even if you’re not the type to read novels, you can dive into short stories or fiction for similar mind-growing benefits.)

All it really comes down to is a dance of words and the style in which you weave them together.

Plus, your skills in both are made stronger if you take care of your body and your brain, since that’s your vehicle for getting your words out into the world. Start with the basics — get enough sleep. Eat green leafy things. Get out in the fresh air every day. Better yet, get your heart pumping. Paint or draw things. Breathe in and notice the scents around you.

The bottom line is that you should never feel like you need to choose one over the other. There’s no fiction vs. copywriting battle line that requires you to choose sides. In fact, a lot of successful authors I know are also high-earning copywriters. They write sales copy to support their fiction hobby. They write fiction to celebrate their love of story.

Both bring value to your writing skills. Both can bring rewards.

What about you — are you a copywriter who dreams of writing a novel? Or are you a novelist (or novelist-to-be) interested in making a living through copywriting? Share your story below.

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Published: February 18, 2016

10 Responses to “How Writing Fiction Makes You a Better Copywriter”

  1. I agree 100% with Mindy's article. I have written 7 novels, 2 non-fiction books, and several articles and short stories. Never made enough money to live on with the fiction. I'm sure that my writing background (or any writing background) will be helpful during my learning to be a successful copywriter.

    Guest (James Olson)

  2. I have been receiving your emails for quite some time. After thinking about it, I concluded that I do not wish to use my talents to help corporations sell things.

    Far better for me to use my writing to advocate for causes I believe in.

    Guest (mel)

  3. This was a very inspiring and much needed article. I am an aspiring fiction novelist and copywriter. Presently, I am working on my first novel while trying to get an understanding of how to be a copywriter. Now that I see both genres go hand in hand; This article has re-infused my confidence and I am so thankful!!


  4. After years of writing various business documents, I have now self-published 10 non-fiction and one historical novel. Having learned the special joy of writing fiction, I hope to now do a sequel to my first. I would also like to earn some extra money in copywriting, but I am concerned. Is 83 too old to break into copywriting? Thanks.

    Guest (Charlie)

  5. I am an aspiring writer. Long story short, that's how I think of myself now. I write copy, content, plays, scripts, short stories and have a novel series in development. I haven't made a dime yet, but that will change - and I believe very soon, thanks to the wonderful folks at AWAI.

    Sandra K Lynne

  6. Hi Mindy,

    I have no interest in writing fiction. I seldom read fiction. My interest in copywriting stems from a desire to make use of my skills and experience as I transition from a career as a social worker. I do not talk much about this new endeavor with family and friends or even with my peers at my local writer's group, as there is the perception that copywriters write "junk mail". We all know that copywriters are going to hell for this :)

    Nora King

  7. I've been a copywriter and author at the same time for years. My copywriter jobs help finance my desire to write novels. I have two novels and a nonfiction book published. I love how the two work together. Copywriting made me a better writer while writing fiction made me a better copywriter. You're so right on, Mindy!

    Guest (Alexis)

  8. What a great article! I am a fiction writer,but I'm not making much money from my novels and turned to copywriting. I'm in the middle of the Accelerated Copywriting course. It's interesting how you say the two are related. When I was a member of another writing website, the owner told us to keep the fiction separate from the copywriting because people won't take you seriously.


  9. Yes, Mindy... I write in order to leave for my life the voice without which the legacy is unlikely. My drawings, paintings, and architecture -- though plentiful -- aren't nearly enough if I'm to ever become yet another Leonardo.

    A "MorrisCode," mine. For which I'm pardonably my own Dan Brown.

    Guest (Chris Morris)

  10. Mindy, I have written a book, fiction. Ken Casey's Murder by Method.(Patricia J. Roberts Slocum).
    It hasn't sold well, family and friends. It's out in paperback, audio book, and Kindle. I just wonder if it really helped in those areas that you mentioned: voice, perspective, and emotion.
    Any thoughts on this trouble would help. Thanks.


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