By Roy H. Williams
Curves are difficult to create in bodies, buildings and furniture. But they always attract attention.
Curves are good. All the best stories have them.
Good movies, plays and books curve one way then another, taking us in directions we did not anticipate. We can never see what’s around the corner.
Curves are the mark of a master.
Only a true craftsman can build furniture with elegant curves. A building with curves is the mark of a talented architect. Bodies with curves are maintained by exercise and a disciplined diet. DNA alone is not enough to keep sensuous curves in place.
Great storytellers rarely take the onramp to the Interstate. They prefer to take the scenic route that curves through the countryside of the mind.
Writing straight, flat and smooth is easy. Writing lumpy is even easier. But to write a message with curves, elegant, sculpted curves, requires time, determination and commitment.
Straight, flat writing sounds like this:
Early one morning I crawled onto the roof to read a book and I noticed a fox in the yard. We looked at each other and then he trotted away.
Lumpy writing sounds like this:
Sometimes I get up early to read and sometimes I do it on the roof. One morning I was reading up there but I can’t remember what it was, though. Doesn’t matter. That’s not really important. The point I wanted to make is that I saw a fox and it was really cool but it trotted off.
Add a few elegant curves and this simple story of a girl and a fox becomes a winding road full of scenery and surprises:
This one day, I got up before anyone, went up on roof with me book and something made me look up. And there he was. Staring at me. A young todd fox, full grown. The cheek of ‘im. He wasn’t scared. His eyes said, “Look at me. I’m all fox, me. I’m perfect. I’m the fancyman fox and I’ll bet you wish you were me.” I could see the dewdrops on his whiskers. He was so bright. His eyes said, “Look at me. I’m more alive than you. I do what I like and no one stops me.” But I felt alive, too. I could feel my heart bumping and something tight in my throat. And I wanted to pull up my skirts and dance for ’im, something daft like that. But what happened was, we just looked at each other like that. And then he turned and trotted away and I could see the dark marks in the grass where he put his feet.
- Lydia Holly, in South Riding, a Masterpiece Theater series based on the novel by Winifred Holtby.
A story can be so full of curves that it can only be described as twisted. Alice in Wonderland was such a story. Likewise, Inception was a movie whose twists required our focused attention.
Advertising can be twisty, too. One of my favorite twisted ads was written by the great Steve McKenzie as an exercise during the second day of the Magical Worlds Communications Workshop.
There it is. Again. The angh-angh, buzz-buzz alarm that crowbars my eyes, loudly. Is this dream or real? What day is it? Am I still employed? Where is that button of snooze? To-do, to-do, so much doo-doo. It’s sweat and Daytimers, soap-on-a-roap, aftershave, mousse with no grunts in my hair. Gotta go-go, I’m driving, I’m driven to the machine that I love, muchly. And there you are, all ground up, waiting to waterfall in my cup. It’s you and your big, red eye. It’s me and my five-gallon travel mug. It’s a marriage made in a paper filter. Sip-sip, yum-yum. I’m zooming. Awake with visions of flying pigs and everything’s possible. You did it! The roasting, the grinding, magical. Who? What? How? Hey! Stewart’s Coffee. Redeye. I’m in love.
The hidden danger of twisty ads is this: they can leave the reader behind. Drive too fast through a series of tight corners and those who are following will lose sight of you. Steve took this ad right to the limit. We were able to keep up with him, but barely. At the end of the ad we knew that Steve was talking about coffee but we wanted to hear the ad again because we knew that some of it had slipped past us.
Like I said earlier, the ability to navigate curves skillfully is the mark of a master. Steve McKenzie is one of those great ones.
Me? I’m doing all I can just to keep it between the yellow lines. Thanks for riding along with me. I enjoy these little drives together.