One of the things we’re always pointing out in our writing workshops is the importance of knowing the outcome of what you’re writing. Instead of thinking about what you want to say, start with the impact you want to have.

Your first questions should be ‘What do I want my reader to do when they read this?’ and ‘How do I want them to feel?’

The answers to these questions will help you decide on your content and structure, the tone you take and how creative you can be.

Free range children

Take public signs that essentially tell people what they can or can’t do. The ones meant to keep people off the grass, out of parking spaces or just to keep their shirt on.

A few enlightened companies and councils have realised that light-hearted, clever appeals to people’s better nature are more likely to get results than heavy-handed instructions.

It’s human psychology, really. Would you be more likely to cooperate with someone bossing you about or someone who asks you nicely with a smile?

For most people, smiles work wonders. When the voice behind the message sounds human and likeable, we’re much more likely to do what it’s asking.

A little well-placed humour (especially in unexpected places) will get people’s attention. And it’ll make them feel more inclined to do what you’re asking.

Funny sign

CC credit to Gene Hunt

Some signs don’t even need words to do the job. (Whoever looks after the Welsh coastal path probably didn’t mean this to be funny, but it was to me. And it certainly caught my attention.)

Welsh coastal path

What this means for writers

Being funny isn’t always way to go, but, when it comes to winning your reader over, sometimes daring to be different is the best place to start.