Who, Where And When Are You?
One line that really grinds my gears is:
“Bring the kids for a great day of family fun...”
There are a few reasons why that line really shits me. Let’s look at the ‘bring’ part by using an open day at a car dealership as an example.
We need use the right mix of perspective, tense and the location of whoever’s speaking. You would usually nail this mix day-to-day without even thinking.
If you’re writing for a staff member who’s encouraging the public to get to a location, you could simply write how you would get people there. For a sportsperson who has just stepped off a football field, you’ll need to consider a couple more things.
Here’s a very brief breakdown of how you should write “bring the kids for a great day of family fun” for different people. Hint: it will change.
Staff member, on location, event is on now:
The line “bring the kids for a great day of family fun” is fine. They’re speaking from the dealership, the event is happening now and will continue for some time.
Staff member, on location, event is happening later:
That line is still applicable because it’s like “I’m hosting a party later, bring the kids!”
Staff member, not on location, event is right now or later:
Replace the ‘bring’ with ‘take’. You’re essentially saying ‘I can’t get there, but you need to take the kids for a great day of family fun.’
Anyone else, on location, event is happening right now:
“Bring the kids for a great day of family fun” is ok. They’re at the event and they’re letting you know that you should bring everyone!
Anyone else, not on location, event is happening now or later:
Like with a staff member not on location, replace ‘bring’ with ‘take’.
I understand why people who aren’t traditionally writers fall into the trap of mixing up ‘bring’ and ‘take’, and ‘come’ and ‘go’. They’re sitting at their desk in the office of a car dealership, thinking about how they would invite someone onto the lot and they struggle to remove themselves from their own head to write from a different perspective.
When using a spokesperson (in this post I concentrated on a sportsperson), it’s good to add an element of distance between them and the client they are promoting to help avoid the piece sounding cheesy.
Next time you’re writing for someone other than yourself, read it aloud and ask if it would sound weird if the person said what you were making them say.