Add This Section to Your House Style Guide

A how-to inspired by the "golden rules" of Hollywood comedy writing

Hi, friends. I'm back from my California adventure a little more sunkissed (not on purpose) and certainly more sleep deprived.

Long flights and Los Angeles traffic have given me a taste for brevity today, so I'll keep this short and sweet.

Long ago, I saved the below list of rules for making great comedy films, attributed to a 1940s Hollywood writer named Preston Sturges. I want to share it with you because it reads almost like a house style guide:

A leg is better than an arm.
A bedroom is better than a living room.
An arrival is better that a departure.
A birth is better than a death.
A chase is better than a chat.
A dog is better than a landscape.
A kitten is better than a dog.
A baby is better than a kitten.
A kiss is better than a baby.
A pratfall is better than anything.

It got me thinking... What would an "is better than" list for conservation comms look like?

Here's my attempt:

An action verb is better than a passive verb. 
Outcomes are better than process.
A win is better than more bad news.
A villain is better than a win.
"Anglers" is better than "fishermen," but "fishing" is better than "angling." [cringe]
A group of people in the outdoors is better than a person alone in the outdoors. This goes for wildlife, too.
A bird is better than a landscape.
A deer is better than a bird.
A bear is better than a deer.
A herd of elk is better than a bear.
A dog is better than anything.

See you next week,

P.S. For more on style guides, last month I talked about them with Donna Ng, the longtime copy chief at Field & Stream. I also put some of her advice into an Instagram post you can save for later.

If this was forwarded to you, I’d be honored to have you follow along.