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Crappy Copy Complicates Completing
Client's Creation (Huh?) To Cope ...
By Dave Courvoisier
Voice Actor & TV News Anchor

Voice actors can tell - usually within seconds - whether the copy they're reading is well-written. An accomplished copywriter stands out above the crowd, just like a seasoned voice actor.

But SO MUCH of the everyday copy that voice actors are asked to read is just ... well ... crap!

Often it's written by a salesperson, or a hurried boss, an ad executive, a DJ, maybe a front-office gal. The copy could be patched together to reflect priorities, not flow. And a universal lament of voice actors is that they're strapped with having to deliver 45-seconds worth of copy in 30-seconds.

Yet, it's YOUR copy to read, and YOU are being engaged by a paying client to deliver it flawlessly, with feeling, and commitment in the time allowed.

What to do? I mean, after all, there are misspellings, dangling participles, passive voice and cliches that make you gag!
Take a deep breath and count to eight. That is, here are eight suggestions for coping with crappy copy.

1. Diplomatically ask if they would consider a couple of recommendations to help the flow, or the pacing, or the "sound" of things. After all, (you could explain) you do this for a living, and you've come to know what works and what doesn't.

2. Ask: "Is this what you're REALLY trying to say?"... then say it better.

3. Swallow your pride, deliver the words as written, send the invoice.

4. Is an intermediary involved (agent, casting director, subscription service) that may be willing to breach the topic of re-writing the copy?

5. Make the changes when you voice the spot, and see if they even notice (sometimes they won't).

6. Mention that you had to drop a word or two to make time (drop the rotten word combinations, or substitute with better ones).

7. Tell the client that you also freelance in writing, and for a small fee, you'd be happy to re-write the spot and submit it to him/her for approval.

8. If you're on a phone patch, the client may agree with you on the spot, that a word combination you substituted for theirs is "better-sounding.'

What I'm getting at here is that your overall goal is to show the client that you care about his product as much or more than he/she. If you become a "partner" in that process - if you prove that genuine concern - then everybody is happier, and you've gained a return customer because they see you really care.

They may not show it, but some clients will actually expect you to bring some of that understanding of what makes good copy, into the booth, when they hire you.

Then again, others will bark: "JUST READ IT LIKE IT'S WRITTEN, OK?" Then we're back to #3.
Dave Courvoisier (“pronounced just like the fine cognac, only no relation”) is an Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, writer, producer, voice actor, and the main weeknight news anchor on KLAS-TV, Channel 8, the Las Vegas CBS affiliate. He also writes “Voice-Acting in Vegas,” a daily blog of adventures and observations in a style that’s true to his friendly Midwestern farm roots.
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