Thanks for the mention in the MMM today. It never ceases to amaze me the buzz something like that creates.
Reading it also reminds me of the other conversation that took place at the same time, when you and Dave were talking about how a chef reduces the sauce to intensify the flavour and how that process can be related to writing. That conversation adds clarity to today’s argument raging in the US about 60’s vs. 30’s.
The “other conversation” mentioned in this email from my partner Steve Rae was with Dave Martin, the Academy graduate and friend in whose restaurant we were dining. Following my discussion of paint with Bob Shrubsall, Dave and I began discussing how impact grows when it’s concentrated into less of the carrier vehicle. This is the secret of perfume, reduction sauce, and the edge of an axe. But just as sharpening an axe or simmering the water from sauce takes time and patience, editing words from descriptions is not a task for the anxious or twitchy.
Easy reading is damned hard writing.
Think of this principle as The Law of Refined Essence.
I’ve always been a fan of David Ogilvy and J. Peterman, two of the great masters of evocative description, and both were advocates of long and colorful copy. These men were legends in their day but I believe that day is fading. The rules of communication are shifting beneath our feet.
Haven’t you noticed?
We’re entering an era of stimuli bombardment, visual ecstasy, sound bites, the micro attention span. A committed reader is a rare bird.
Over-communication has accelerated beyond critical mass and the resulting explosion has fragmented the public mind.
So the new rule is to say what you’ve got to say. And say it hot.
Speaking to authors, Elizabeth Spencer said, “Don’t overwrite description in a story – you haven’t got time.” I believe her advice rings truer today than ever.
What do you believe?
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