Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A friend writes.

I just got an email from a friend of mine.

"There's an assignment kicking around in my group now to create some guidelines for videos that my client produces on their own.

"It seems to me that such guidelines are a silly and futile attempt to keep people who have no taste from producing something tasteless. To idiot proof idiocy.

"Any thoughts on this?"

Here's my response.

X, there's no way to completely stop people from doing something crass and stupid, but I wonder if there's a way of adapting Orwell's "6 Rules for Decent Writing" to your task. I've pasted them below and hope they help. They seem like pretty good rules to me, something you might have gotten from Ogilvy.

From his "Politics and the English Language."

(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

(ii) Never us a long word where a short one will do.

(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.

(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

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