You’ve flipped through a style guide or two in your time, right?
Usually printed on extra weighty paper, lots of color and shine. But typically not much substance. Or even that helpful with misty notions of ‘personable on-brand language’ and whatnot. Do humans speak like that? Do roadrunners speak like that?
The best style guides are far simpler, and far more to the point. Take Chuck Jone’s “Looney Tunes” style guide for his animated cartoon characters Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner.
1. The Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going “meep, meep.”
2. No outside force can harm the Coyote -- only his own ineptitude or the failure of Acme products. Trains and trucks are the exception from time to time.
3. The Coyote could stop anytime -- if he wasn’t a fanatic.
4. No dialogue ever, except “meep, meep” and yowling in pain.
5. The Road Runner must stay on the road -- for no other reason than he’s a roadrunner.
6. All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters -- the southwest American desert.
7. All tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation.
8. Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote’s greatest enemy.
9. The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures.
10. The audience’s sympathy must remain with the Coyote.
11. The Coyote is not allowed to catch or eat the Road Runner.
No lush illustrations. No fancy printing. Just the facts, m’am.
No uh’ming and ah’ing. No calls to confusing (some would say mindless) descriptions of brand voice. Just practical directions of what to do and what not to do. Actually, it’s not really a style guide.
It’s a rule book.