Sunday, February 5, 2012

Architectural Digest and Elmore Leonard

I receive Rollingstone Magazine. I have not paid for it in years. Periodically they send me a notice informing me that it's my last chance to re-subscribe before delivery will be ceased. They lie. Obviously my potential consumer eyeballs are worth more than I am as a old reader and rocker.

Yesterday I also received a copy of Architectural Digest. It is an exorbitantly expensive magazine with advertisements for things I will never buy. It seems more at home on elegant side tables in upscale New York apartments than in my simple Midwestern cottage. I don't pay for. Like Rollingstone it shows up unsolicited in my the mailbox. Apparently I am on a list somewhere.

And now unto Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing. Bear with me here, I'll pull this back together eventually. In particular note his summation.
  1. Never open a book with weather.
  2. Avoid prologues.
  3. Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.
  4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said”…he admonished gravely.
  5. Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
  6. Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."
  7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
  8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
  9. Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
  10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
"My most important rule is one that sums up the 10:  
 If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."
I have regular online conversations with three other gentlemen. Mainly what we have in common are old bicycles, liberal politics, and an interest in art and design. A couple of them actually designed furniture for a living, whereas my design work was much more pedestrian. This would normally be part of one of our ongoing discussions. For some reason I am moved to throw this one out to the world. I want to make this quite clear. The following is not a value judgment, a right or wrong proclamation. It only applies to myself and my narrow opinion.

Now, let's get Elmore Leonard back into the fray. In furniture and interior design, I like nicely proportioned pieces, particularly Shaker and Craftsman, which feel at home here in the Midwest. But overall, I like an Elmore Leonard approach. I do not like furniture or rooms that look "designed". I think the furniture and rooms in Architectural Digest are ostentatious and just bloody awful.
         If it looks designed, start over.

Thank you for your time. Dan Lestrud built-up a beautiful set of wheels for my McLean (gray anodized Gentleman 81s laced to Campy SR hubs with DT Revolutions) and I need to get some rubber on them before the football game starts.


Silk Hope said...

I have been a designer and (conservative independent) for over 31 years. Here are some axioms to live by. Never over design and never read/buy Architectural Digest (Disgust). Here endth the lesson.

Tony T. said...

"I think the furniture and rooms in Architectural Digest are ostentatious and just bloody awful."...... Having grown up with a wannabe interior designer, you can add "uncomfortable"