February 07, 2016

Spice up the rules!

The value, or otherwise, of peer-support groups and creative writing degrees is regularly discussed in publishing and writing circles. There’s a blog post currently doing the rounds which suggests too much serious fiction today is depressingly similar because it is constrained by rules, like don’t use contractions, don’t use that same serious word more than once on a page, etc.  While courses and groups are important, especially for early career writers, they can be counter-productive if one’s unique voice is going to be squashed into some kind of conformity as a result of being involved in them.

Having been a victim of serious rules-angst myself, I fully appreciate how many writers worry about avoiding cliché or struggle to express themselves with clever new metaphors instead of being true to their individual style. As a reader, if you tell me the sky is cloudless, that’s fine and I probably won’t even notice it, let alone take you to task for unoriginality, but telling me it is “an unshrouded canopy of aquamarine” is just an annoying try-hard distraction.

I’ve just finished reading the first part of a serious classic trilogy written by a mid-20th Century author who didn’t follow any rules. Sure, it’s a little haphazard and mostly written from the unfashionable omniscient point of view but it’s been one of the richest reading experiences I’ve had in a long time. I can hardly wait to get on with the second instalment and not give a thought to its adverbs and adjectives. Everything about this writer’s style would cause modern tutors and editors to throw up their hands in horror or, more likely, she would never get beyond the serious slush pile in the first place.

The advertising copy-writing industry regularly chucks out rules, thank goodness. Old Spice has some doozies, but they make you sit up and take notice for sure!

If you can figure out what the heck this actually means, then good luck. Tears of falcons? Hmm - any liquid falling off birds flying over mountains is likely to be something that sure isn’t going to smell like aftershave. [And if you’re fussy, shouldn’t it read, “a man who …”?]

This is not a plug for Old Spice by any means, but their various world websites have lots of fun images and advertising copy with nothing serious allowed. Some of them are pretty f/risky, but here’s a couple more that I like. [Does that Fabio never get any older?]

And check out the great range of hilarious TV ads on YouTube, also those featuring Terry Crews and others. Priceless!

Ha ha, I must tell my grandsons sometime when they are old enough to use the stuff that this statement on the back of the bottles is absolutely true! 

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