This is a case where the person you hire to help you with some writing is more than her ability to write.
The story was meant to promote a vital program helping women work in a non-traditional area. The client asked me to interview a woman who had successfully completed the program, who talked about it changing her life. After initially approving the story I wrote, the employee changed her mind and said she wasn’t comfortable being featured. Disaster!
Or was it? While assuring her we wouldn’t run something if she didn’t want to, I sent another version of the story, toning down what she obviously felt was a too-bright spotlight by taking her name out of the headline and removing some of the more personal comments. I reminded her that we wanted more women to know about the program and that employees want to read about people more than programs.
My client jokingly asked if I “walked on water, too,” but there’s no miracle involved in the situation. Our first reaction to someone saying “no” may be to accept it, but why? This feels a bit like bragging, but as a seasoned writer, I’m not afraid to question a decision or offer an alternative before accepting a “no.”
I’m also not afraid to challenge people when they use jargon, as I did with another client. Someone I interviewed wanted to turn his warm, natural comments into stiff corporatespeak, but agreed that simple words make stories more readable.
And I am not afraid to look stupid by asking questions until I understand, because that’s the only way I’ll help readers understand.
If you use writers, what value do you see in their experience? Writers, what other value do you think your experience offers your clients?
Note that no bacon photos appeared in this article out of consideration for my vegetarian friends. 🙂