Writing is something that most of us do every day, and the texts we produce appear everywhere from the sides of cereal packets to the pages of a magazine. And yet, despite the pervasiveness of the written word, nailing down what exactly makes good writing is tricky. Even though we have prizes to tell us what makes good literature and poetry, it is rare for two people to be moved or engaged in exactly the same way by the same piece of text.
When it comes to content generation, this sense of subjectivity and nebulosity can pose a challenge to the writer. However, there are various different structures and techniques that content creators use to ensure that their copy comes out looking and sounding the part.
Today on the blog, we’re going to take a look at some common types of content generation that can be done by both humans and machines. What characterises these different text types? What are the qualities of a good writer in each category? What kind of writing assignments can AI manage and when will only a human suffice? Read on to learn the answers to all these questions and more!
Copywriting is the art and science of writing text for the purpose of advertising, marketing, or other promotional activities. The primary goal of copywriting is usually to persuade the reader to perform a particular action, whether that be to buy a product, subscribe to a newsletter or enter a competition.
The copywriting spectrum is a very broad one indeed – on one end, you’ll find unpredictable and thought-provoking texts that tug at the heart strings or take the reader on a journey. On the other, we come across formulaic pieces that clearly sign-post where they’re going and contain very few surprises or revelations.
Both types have their place all depending on factors such as objective and budget. Humans are invariably behind the best copy, but AI can be used as a spring-board to produce passable first drafts that can then be smoothed over without breaking the bank.
The key to good technical writing is being able to boil down complicated ideas into clear and comprehensible chunks of information that lay readers can digest and understand. Often this requires not only a mastery of the written word, but also a deep and broad understanding of the subject at hand.
In order to produce a good piece of technical writing, it is important to have a good idea who the readership will be so that the text can be adapted to their grasp of the material. Visual elements can also be of great help and a skilled technical writer knows how to use graphs and charts in order to aid their explanations and complement the body of their text.
Common examples of technical texts include user manuals, engineering reports, safety guidelines and medical documentation.
The first rule of journalism is not to bury the lede! Meaning it is important to frontload all the most pertinent and interesting information – entirely within the headline and the very first sentence if possible. This means that crafting good journalism requires an eagle-eyed understanding of the bigger picture and what makes the story relevant and interesting in the first place.
Journalists also need to balance a lot of ethical, moral and legal concerns such as how they treat their sources, how they ensure impartiality and offer right of reply within their text, and what impact their text might have on the broader cultural and media discourse.
AI can be quite good at taking details and moulding them into a classic journalistic format, but the tendency of content generation tools such as ChatGPT to hallucinate means that they absolutely must be used under human supervision. Entrusting AI to put out journalism unchecked would have grave implications for the media landscape and the spread of disinformation online.
INT. SCRIPTWRITER’S OFFICE – NIGHT.
(The scriptwriter bashes furiously on his keyboard. His desk is littered with papers and crushed paper coffee cups. The wastepaper bin piles high)
Scriptwriting is an art form littered with abbreviations, cues and jargon of its own. Scripts are unique in that they are creative documents which tell a story, but they are also instruction manuals which instruct the cast and the crew on how to translate what is written on the page into a fully-formed visual and aural experience.
Scriptwriters need an acute sense for how their dialogue will sound when spoken aloud. They also need to strike the right balance between giving enough stage direction to bring their vision to life, while being sure not to stifle the story with an abundance of unnecessary detail.
Scriptwriting is also sometimes referred to as screenwriting when the production is intended for television or film rather than the stage.
Nothing to do with ghouls or phantoms, ghostwriting is the practice of writing in the voice of somebody else – usually a celebrity or public figure with an interesting story to tell but no writer’s toolkit with which to tell it. The challenge with this kind of writing is adopting the vocabulary and style of another person – almost like a form of acting but on the page.
A good ghostwriter not only needs to be a master of the written word, but they also need to possess excellent research and interview skills in order to acquire all of the information and history they need to fully embody their subject. AI can be a useful source of inspiration as it can quickly synthesise and mimic the style of the subject, but it takes a human voice to really capture their true essence in writing.
Academic writing can be tricky to the uninitiated. Although this form of writing leaves plenty of space for creativity and experimentation, it also has its own rules and rhythms and will usually be produced with the peer review process in mind. Like technical writers, academic writers often need to convey complex ideas in a relatively accessible way, while also ensuring academic rigour and thorough source citation.
After the writing comes the editing. This is the process of polishing and refining a text in order to make sure that it flows and reads well, and that it is free of linguistic and factual errors. Editing can take different forms depending on its context and scope. Some texts may simply be proofread to check for spelling mistakes or inaccuracies while other texts may undergo a more thorough editing process to bring them in line with the standards and conventions of a publication.
The challenge of the content editor is often knowing where to draw the line between objective and subjective amendments, and keeping in mind the interests of all involved in the text – from its original creator to the publication and its readership. A good editor knows how to quickly work their way through pages upon pages of text, making pinpoint changes to bring out the best in a text
A Content Generation Partner You Can Trust
As you can see from our whirlwind journey through the different realms of content generation, writing is no walk in the park. What’s more, often we don’t have the time or the range of skills to produce all the written texts we need as an organisation. The most important thing then, is to make sure you have a content generation partner you can trust – a partner with the right mix of talents and the right tools at their disposal to tailor your texts in line with budget and time constraints.
Here at Comunica, we not only have years of experience translating texts from different industries and domains, but we also work with a curated team of content creators to produce original texts of all types. From website copy and blog posts to creative texts and academic articles, we know the rules of each category and the key to producing stellar-quality texts.