Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘lists’

21 AUGUST, 2013

Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing

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“If it sounds like writing … rewrite it.”

On July 16, 2001, Elmore Leonard (October 11, 1925–August 20, 2013) made his timeless contribution to the meta-literary canon in a short piece for The New York Times, outlining his ten rules of writing. The essay, which inspired the Guardian series that gave us similar lists of writing rules by Zadie Smith, Margaret Atwood, and Neil Gaiman, was eventually adapted into Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing (public library) — a slim, beautifully typeset book, with illustrations by Joe Ciardiello accompanying Leonard’s timeless rules.

He prefaces the list with a short disclaimer of sorts:

These are rules I’ve picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I’m writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what’s taking place in the story. If you have a facility for language and imagery and the sound of your voice pleases you, invisibility is not what you are after, and you can skip the rules. Still, you might look them over.

Leonard then goes on to lay out the ten commandments, infused with his signature blend of humor, humility, and uncompromising discernment:

  1. Never open a book with weather.
  2. If it’s only to create atmosphere, and not a character’s reaction to the weather, you don’t want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways to describe ice and snow than an Eskimo, you can do all the weather reporting you want.

  3. Avoid prologues.
  4. They can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in nonfiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want.

    There is a prologue in John Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday, but it’s O.K. because a character in the book makes the point of what my rules are all about. He says: “I like a lot of talk in a book and I don’t like to have nobody tell me what the guy that’s talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks. . . . figure out what the guy’s thinking from what he says. I like some description but not too much of that. . . . Sometimes I want a book to break loose with a bunch of hooptedoodle. . . . Spin up some pretty words maybe or sing a little song with language. That’s nice. But I wish it was set aside so I don’t have to read it. I don’t want hooptedoodle to get mixed up with the story.”

  5. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
  6. The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied. I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with “she asseverated,” and had to stop reading to get the dictionary.

  7. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” …
  8. …he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances “full of rape and adverbs.”

  9. Keep your exclamation points under control.
  10. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.

  11. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
  12. This rule doesn’t require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use “suddenly” tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points.

  13. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
  14. Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonetically and loading the page with apostrophes, you won’t be able to stop. Notice the way Annie Proulx captures the flavor of Wyoming voices in her book of short stories Close Range.

  15. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
  16. Which Steinbeck covered. In Ernest Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants what do the “American and the girl with him” look like? “She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.” That’s the only reference to a physical description in the story, and yet we see the couple and know them by their tones of voice, with not one adverb in sight.

  17. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
  18. Unless you’re Margaret Atwood and can paint scenes with language or write landscapes in the style of Jim Harrison. But even if you’re good at it, you don’t want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.

    And finally:

  19. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
  20. A rule that came to mind in 1983. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he’s writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character’s head, and the reader either knows what the guy’s thinking or doesn’t care. I’ll bet you don’t skip dialogue.

    My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.

    If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

    Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative. It’s my attempt to remain invisible, not distract the reader from the story with obvious writing. (Joseph Conrad said something about words getting in the way of what you want to say.)

    If I write in scenes and always from the point of view of a particular character — the one whose view best brings the scene to life — I’m able to concentrate on the voices of the characters telling you who they are and how they feel about what they see and what’s going on, and I’m nowhere in sight.

    What Steinbeck did in Sweet Thursday was title his chapters as an indication, though obscure, of what they cover. “Whom the Gods Love They Drive Nuts” is one, “Lousy Wednesday” another. The third chapter is titled “Hooptedoodle 1″ and the 38th chapter “Hooptedoodle 2″ as warnings to the reader, as if Steinbeck is saying: “Here’s where you’ll see me taking flights of fancy with my writing, and it won’t get in the way of the story. Skip them if you want.”

    Sweet Thursday came out in 1954, when I was just beginning to be published, and I’ve never forgotten that prologue.

    Did I read the hooptedoodle chapters? Every word.

Complement Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing with the 10 best books on writing and the collected advice of other famous writers, including Walter Benjamin’s thirteen rules, H. P. Lovecraft’s advice to aspiring writers, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s letter to his daughter, Zadie Smith’s 10 rules of writing, Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 keys to the power of the written word, David Ogilvy’s 10 no-bullshit tips, Henry Miller’s 11 commandments, Jack Kerouac’s 30 beliefs and techniques, John Steinbeck’s 6 pointers, Neil Gaiman’s 8 rules, and Susan Sontag’s synthesized learnings.

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30 JULY, 2013

David Ogilvy’s Timeless Principles of Creative Management

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“If you ever find a man who is better than you are — hire him. If necessary, pay him more than you pay yourself.”

Advertising legend David Ogilvy endures not only as the original Mad Man, but also as one of modern history’s most celebrated creative leaders in the communication arts. From The Unpublished David Ogilvy (public library) — the same compendium of his lectures, memos, and lists that also gave us Ogilvy’s 10 no-bullshit tips on writing, his endearing memo of praise to a veteran copywriter, and his list of the 10 qualities of creative leaders — comes a chapter titled “Principles of Management,” based on a 1968 paper Ogilvy wrote as a guide for Ogilvy & Mather managers worldwide.

In a section on morale, he admonishes that some companies “have been destroyed by internal politics” and offers seven ways to curtail them:

  1. Always be fair and honest in your own dealings; unfairness and dishonesty at the top can demoralize [a company].
  2. Never hire relatives or friends.
  3. Sack incurable politicians.
  4. Crusade against paper warfare*. Encourage your people to air their disagreements face-to-face.
  5. Discourage secrecy.
  6. Discourage poaching.
  7. Compose sibling rivalries.

* Though Ogilvy was writing decades before email, the same applies with equal urgency to today’s electronic warfare.

Echoing Dickens, who advised his son to “never be hard upon people who are in your power,” and presaging the modern science of autonomy, mastery, and purpose as the key to motivation at work, Ogilvy adds:

The best way to “install a generator” in a man is to give him the greatest possible responsibility. Treat your subordinates as grown-ups — and they will grow up. Help them when they are in difficulty. Be affectionate and human, not cold and impersonal.

Italo Calvino cautioned in his collected insights on writing that “one cannot say a priori that a writer just because he is a writer is more capable of handling ideas and of seeing what is essential than a journalist.” Similarly, Ogilvy notes the democratic nature of ideas and urges managers not to subscribe to siloed stereotypes:

Senior men and women have no monopoly on great ideas. Nor do Creative people. Some of the best ideas come from account executives, researchers, and others. Encourage this; you need all the ideas you can get.

Reflecting on mastering the pace of productivity, he argues:

I believe in the Scottish proverb: Hard work never killed a man. Men die of boredom, psychological conflict and disease. They do not die of hard work. The harder your people work, the happier and healthier they will be.

Writing shortly after Arthur Koestler’s famous treatise on the relationship between humor and creativity, Ogilvy affirms the importance of that link in cultivating a creative environment:

Kill grimness with laughter. Maintain an atmosphere of informality. Encourage exuberance. Get rid of sad dogs who spread gloom.

In a section on respect, he calls for creative integrity:

Our offices must always be headed by the kind of people who command respect. No phonies, zeros or bastards.

In a section on hiring, he offers the two essential criteria for recruiting talent:

The paramount problem you face is this: advertising is one of the most difficult functions in industry, and too few brilliant people want careers in advertising.

The challenge is to recruit people who are able to do the difficult work our clients require from us.

  1. Make a conscious effort to avoid recruiting dull, pedestrian hacks.
  2. Create an atmosphere of ferment, innovation and freedom. This will attract brilliant recruits.

If you ever find a man who is better than you are — hire him. If necessary, pay him more than you pay yourself.

He adds a note on equality in hiring (though, on the cusp of the second wave of feminism and shortly after the Equal Pay Act, he makes no mention of equal opportunity for women):

In recruitment and promotion we are fanatical in our hatred for all forms of prejudice. We have no prejudice for or against Roman Catholics, Protestants, Negroes, Aristocracy, Jews, Agnostics or foreigners.

In a section on partnership within the company, he offers four points of advice:

It is as difficult to sustain happy partnerships as to sustain happy marriages. The challenge can be met if those concerned practice these restraints:

  1. Have clear-cut division of responsibility.
  2. Don’t poach on the other fellow’s preserves.
  3. Live and let live; nobody is perfect.
  4. “Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considers not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

In a section on comers, exploring the management of talent, he reiterates some his 10 criteria for creative leaders and advises:

The management of manpower resources is one of the most important duties of our office heads. It is particularly important for them to spot people of unusual promise early in their careers, and to move them up the ladder as fast as they can handle increased responsibility.

There are five characteristics which suggest to me that a person has the potential for rapid promotion:

  1. He is ambitious.
  2. He works harder than his peers — and enjoys it.
  3. He has a brilliant brain — inventive and unorthodox.
  4. He has an engaging personality.
  5. He demonstrates respect for the creative function.

If you fail to recognize, promote and reward young people of exceptional promise, they will leave you; the loss of an exceptional man can be as damaging as the loss of an account.

The rest of his principles go on to explore such intricacies as the perils of leadership, the art of cat-herding creative people, and how to know when to resign a client. It’s worth reiterating just how excellent and timeless The Unpublished David Ogilvy is in its entirety.

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19 JULY, 2013

10 Tips on Writing from Joyce Carol Oates

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“Don’t try to anticipate an ideal reader — or any reader. He/she might exist — but is reading someone else.”

In a recent tweeting spree, the inimitable Joyce Carol Oates offered ten tips on writing — a fine addition to this master-list of famous authors’ wisdom on the craft.

  1. Write your heart out.
  2. The first sentence can be written only after the last sentence has been written. FIRST DRAFTS ARE HELL. FINAL DRAFTS, PARADISE.
  3. You are writing for your contemporaries — not for Posterity. If you are lucky, your contemporaries will become Posterity.
  4. Keep in mind Oscar Wilde: “A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.”
  5. When in doubt how to end a chapter, bring in a man with a gun. (This is Raymond Chandler’s advice, not mine. I would not try this.)
  6. Unless you are experimenting with form — gnarled, snarled & obscure — be alert for possibilities of paragraphing.
  7. Be your own editor/critic. Sympathetic but merciless!
  8. Don’t try to anticipate an ideal reader — or any reader. He/she might exist — but is reading someone else.
  9. Read, observe, listen intensely! — as if your life depended upon it.
  10. Write your heart out.

This wonderful micro-documentary from the New Yorker offers a peek inside Oates’s life, work, and creative process:

Anything I’ve encountered in the world is never as interesting as a novel… What you find out there is never as exciting as your own creation.

For more wisdom on writing, see Walter Benjamin’s thirteen rules, H. P. Lovecraft’s advice to aspiring writers, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s letter to his daughter, Zadie Smith’s 10 rules of writing, Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 keys to the power of the written word, David Ogilvy’s 10 no-bullshit tips, Henry Miller’s 11 commandments, Jack Kerouac’s 30 beliefs and techniques, John Steinbeck’s 6 pointers, Neil Gaiman’s 8 rules, and Susan Sontag’s synthesized learnings.

Portrait by Marion Ettlinger

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27 JUNE, 2013

14-Year-Old George Washington’s 110 Commandments for Cultivating Character

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“Labour to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”

“The list is the origin of culture,” Umberto Eco proclaimed. “I perceive value, I confer value, I create value, I even create — or guarantee — existence. Hence, my compulsion to make ‘lists,'” Susan Sontag reflected. But one of modern history’s greatest list-lovers was none other than America’s first President. In 1745, coming up on his fifteenth year, young George Washington penned a list of 110 commandments for cultivating character, titled Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation and digitally preserved by the University of Virginia Archives.

Even though in his 1890 book George Washington’s Rules of Civility Traced to Their Sources and Restored Moncure Daniel Conway notes that Washington generously “borrowed” the bulk of his rules from a 1595 French Jesuit book — a testament to the fact that everything builds on what came before — they remain fascinating in their own right as an ideological predecessor to the foundation of America’s democratic and moral ideals.

Some, at the intersection of the dated and the timeless, expose the parallel progress of cultural conventions and technology: For instance, Washington admonishes against reading “letters, books, or papers in company” — the then-equivalent of looking at your iPhone during a dinner party. Some speak to the enduring importance of critical thinking: “Be not hasty to beleive flying Reports to the Disparag[e]ment of any.” Some advocate for the humanizing effect of compassion: “When you see a Crime punished, you may be inwardly Pleased; but always shew Pity to the Suffering Offender.” Some remind us of how our personal micro-culture shapes us: “Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for ’tis better to be alone than in bad Company.”

Transcript below, with teenage George’s original typos (long before “typing” as we know it, of course) preserved.

  1. Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.
  2. When in Company, put not your Hands to any Part of the Body, not usualy Discovered.
  3. Shew Nothing to your Freind that may affright him.
  4. In the Presence of Others Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, nor Drum with your Fingers or Feet.
  5. If You Cough, Sneeze, Sigh, or Yawn, do it not Loud but Privately; and Speak not in your Yawning, but put Your handkercheif or Hand before your face and turn aside.
  6. Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others stand, Speak not when you Should hold your Peace, walk not on when others Stop.
  7. Put not off your Cloths in the presence of Others, nor go out your Chamber half Drest.
  8. At Play and at Fire its Good manners to Give Place to the last Commer, and affect not to Speak Louder than Ordinary.
  9. Spit not in the Fire, nor Stoop low before it neither Put your Hands into the Flames to warm them, nor Set your Feet upon the Fire especially if there be meat before it.
  10. When you Sit down, Keep your Feet firm and Even, without putting one on the other or Crossing them.
  11. Shift not yourself in the Sight of others nor Gnaw your nails.
  12. Shake not the head, Feet, or Legs rowl not the Eys lift not one eyebrow higher than the other wry not the mouth, and bedew no mans face with your Spittle, by appr[oaching too nea]r him [when] you Speak.
  13. Kill no Vermin as Fleas, lice ticks &c in the Sight of Others, if you See any filth or thick Spittle put your foot Dexteriously upon it if it be upon the Cloths of your Companions, Put it off privately, and if it be upon your own Cloths return Thanks to him who puts it off.
  14. Turn not your Back to others especially in Speaking, Jog not the Table or Desk on which Another reads or writes, lean not upon any one.
  15. Keep your Nails clean and Short, also your Hands and Teeth Clean yet without Shewing any great Concern for them.
  16. Do not Puff up the Cheeks, Loll not out the tongue rub the Hands, or beard, thrust out the lips, or bite them or keep the Lips too open or too Close.
  17. Be no Flatterer, neither Play with any that delights not to be Play’d Withal.
  18. Read no Letters, Books, or Papers in Company but when there is a Necessity for the doing of it you must ask leave: come not near the Books or Writings of Another so as to read them unless desired or give your opinion of them unask’d also look not nigh when another is writing a Letter.
  19. let your Countenance be pleasant but in Serious Matters Somewhat grave.
  20. The Gestures of the Body must be Suited to the discourse you are upon.
  21. Reproach none for the Infirmaties of Nature, nor Delight to Put them that have in mind thereof.
  22. Shew not yourself glad at the Misfortune of another though he were your enemy.
  23. When you see a Crime punished, you may be inwardly Pleased; but always shew Pity to the Suffering Offender.
  24. [Do not laugh too loud or] too much at any Publick [Spectacle].
  25. Superfluous Complements and all Affectation of Ceremonie are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be Neglected.
  26. In Pulling off your Hat to Persons of Distinction, as Noblemen, Justices, Churchmen &c make a Reverence, bowing more or less according to the Custom of the Better Bred, and Quality of the Person. Amongst your equals expect not always that they Should begin with you first, but to Pull off the Hat when there is no need is Affectation, in the Manner of Saluting and resaluting in words keep to the most usual Custom.
  27. Tis ill manners to bid one more eminent than yourself be covered as well as not to do it to whom it’s due Likewise he that makes too much haste to Put on his hat does not well, yet he ought to Put it on at the first, or at most the Second time of being ask’d; now what is herein Spoken, of Qualification in behaviour in Saluting, ought also to be observed in taking of Place, and Sitting down for ceremonies without Bounds is troublesome.
  28. If any one come to Speak to you while you are are Sitting Stand up tho he be your Inferiour, and when you Present Seats let it be to every one according to his Degree.
  29. When you meet with one of Greater Quality than yourself, Stop, and retire especially if it be at a Door or any Straight place to give way for him to Pass.
  30. In walking the highest Place in most Countrys Seems to be on the right hand therefore Place yourself on the left of him whom you desire to Honour: but if three walk together the mid[dest] Place is the most Honourable the wall is usually given to the most worthy if two walk together.
  31. If any one far Surpassess others, either in age, Estate, or Merit [yet] would give Place to a meaner than hims[elf in his own lodging or elsewhere] the one ought not to except it, S[o he on the other part should not use much earnestness nor offer] it above once or twice.
  32. To one that is your equal, or not much inferior you are to give the cheif Place in your Lodging and he to who ’tis offered ought at the first to refuse it but at the Second to accept though not without acknowledging his own unworthiness.
  33. They that are in Dignity or in office have in all places Preceedency but whilst they are Young they ought to respect those that are their equals in Birth or other Qualitys, though they have no Publick charge.
  34. It is good Manners to prefer them to whom we Speak befo[re] ourselves especially if they be above us with whom in no Sort we ought to begin.
  35. Let your Discourse with Men of Business be Short and Comprehensive.
  36. Artificers & Persons of low Degree ought not to use many ceremonies to Lords, or Others of high Degree but Respect and high[ly] Honour them, and those of high Degree ought to treat them with affibility & Courtesie, without Arrogancy.
  37. In Speaking to men of Quality do not lean nor Look them full in the Face, nor approach too near them at lest Keep a full Pace from them.
  38. In visiting the Sick, do not Presently play the Physicion if you be not Knowing therein.
  39. In writing or Speaking, give to every Person his due Title According to his Degree & the Custom of the Place.
  40. Strive not with your Superiers in argument, but always Submit your Judgment to others with Modesty.
  41. Undertake not to Teach your equal in the art himself Proffesses; it Savours of arrogancy.
  42. [Let thy ceremonies in] Courtesie be proper to the Dignity of his place [with whom thou conversest for it is absurd to ac]t the same with a Clown and a Prince.
  43. Do not express Joy before one sick or in pain for that contrary Passion will aggravate his Misery.
  44. When a man does all he can though it Succeeds not well blame not him that did it.
  45. Being to advise or reprehend any one, consider whether it ought to be in publick or in Private; presently, or at Some other time in what terms to do it & in reproving Shew no Sign of Cholar but do it with all Sweetness and Mildness.
  46. Take all Admonitions thankfully in what Time or Place Soever given but afterwards not being culpable take a Time [&] Place convenient to let him him know it that gave them.
  47. Mock not nor Jest at any thing of Importance break [n]o Jest that are Sharp Biting and if you Deliver any thing witty and Pleasent abtain from Laughing thereat yourself.
  48. Wherein wherein you reprove Another be unblameable yourself; for example is more prevalent than Precepts.
  49. Use no Reproachfull Language against any one neither Curse nor Revile.
  50. Be not hasty to beleive flying Reports to the Disparag[e]ment of any.
  51. Wear not your Cloths, foul, unript or Dusty but See they be Brush’d once every day at least and take heed tha[t] you approach not to any Uncleaness.
  52. In your Apparel be Modest and endeavour to accomodate Nature, rather than to procure Admiration keep to the Fashio[n] of your equals Such as are Civil and orderly with respect to Times and Places.
  53. Run not in the Streets, neither go t[oo s]lowly nor wit[h] Mouth open go not Shaking yr Arms [kick not the earth with yr feet, go] not upon the Toes, nor in a Dancing [fashion].
  54. Play not the Peacock, looking every where about you, to See if you be well Deck’t, if your Shoes fit well if your Stokings sit neatly, and Cloths handsomely.
  55. Eat not in the Streets, nor in the House, out of Season.
  56. Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for ’tis better to be alone than in bad Company.
  57. In walking up and Down in a House, only with One in Compan[y] if he be Greater than yourself, at the first give him the Right hand and Stop not till he does and be not the first that turns, and when you do turn let it be with your face towards him, if he be a Man of Great Quality, walk not with him Cheek by Joul but Somewhat behind him; but yet in Such a Manner that he may easily Speak to you.
  58. Let your Conversation be without Malice or Envy, for ’tis a Sig[n o]f a Tractable and Commendable Nature: And in all Causes of Passion [ad]mit Reason to Govern.
  59. Never express anything unbecoming, nor Act agst the Rules Mora[l] before your inferiours.
  60. Be not immodest in urging your Freinds to Discover a Secret.
  61. Utter not base and frivilous things amongst grave and Learn’d Men nor very Difficult Questians or Subjects, among the Ignorant or things hard to be believed, Stuff not your Discourse with Sentences amongst your Betters nor Equals.
  62. Speak not of doleful Things in a Time of Mirth or at the Table; Speak not of Melancholy Things as Death and Wounds, and if others Mention them Change if you can the Discourse tell not your Dreams, but to your intimate Friend.
  63. A Man o[ug]ht not to value himself of his Atchievements, or rare Qua[lities of wit; much less of his rich]es Virtue or Kindred.
  64. Break not a Jest where none take pleasure in mirth Laugh not aloud, nor at all without Occasion, deride no mans Misfortune, tho’ there Seem to be Some cause.
  65. Speak not injurious Words neither in Jest nor Earnest Scoff at none although they give Occasion.
  66. Be not froward but friendly and Courteous; the first to Salute hear and answer & be not Pensive when it’s a time to Converse.
  67. Detract not from others neither be excessive in Commanding.
  68. Go not thither, where you know not, whether you Shall be Welcome or not. Give not Advice with[out] being Ask’d & when desired [d]o it briefly.
  69. If two contend together take not the part of either unconstrain[ed]; and be not obstinate in your own Opinion, in Things indiferent be of the Major Side.
  70. Reprehend not the imperfections of others for that belong[s] to Parents Masters and Superiours.
  71. Gaze not on the marks or blemishes of Others and ask not how they came. What you may Speak in Secret to your Friend deliver not before others.
  72. Speak not in an unknown Tongue in Company but in your own Language and that as those of Quality do and not as the Vulgar; Sublime matters treat Seriously.
  73. Think before you Speak pronounce not imperfectly nor bring ou[t] your Words too hastily but orderly & distinctly.
  74. When Another Speaks be attentive your Self and disturb not the Audience if any hesitate in his Words help him not nor Prompt him without desired, Interrupt him not, nor Answer him till his Speec[h] be ended.
  75. In the midst of Discourse ask [not of what one treateth] but if you Perceive any Stop because of [your coming you may well intreat him gently] to Proceed: If a Person of Quality comes in while your Conversing it’s handsome to Repeat what was said before.
  76. While you are talking, Point not with your Finger at him of Whom you Discourse nor Approach too near him to whom you talk especially to his face.
  77. Treat with men at fit Times about Business & Whisper not in the Company of Others.
  78. Make no Comparisons and if any of the Company be Commended for any brave act of Vertue, commend not another for the Same.
  79. Be not apt to relate News if you know not the truth thereof. In Discoursing of things you Have heard Name not your Author always A [Se]cret Discover not.
  80. Be not Tedious in Discourse or in reading unless you find the Company pleased therewith.
  81. Be not Curious to Know the Affairs of Others neither approach those that Speak in Private.
  82. Undertake not what you cannot Perform but be Carefull to keep your Promise.
  83. When you deliver a matter do it without Passion & with Discretion, howev[er] mean the Person be you do it too.
  84. When your Superiours talk to any Body hearken not neither Speak nor Laugh.
  85. In Company of these of Higher Quality than yourself Speak not ti[l] you are ask’d a Question then Stand upright put of your Hat & Answer in few words.
  86. In Disputes, be not So Desireous to Overcome as not to give Liberty to each one to deliver his Opinion and Submit to the Judgment of the Major Part especially if they are Judges of the Dispute.
  87. [Let thy carriage be such] as becomes a Man Grave Settled and attentive [to that which is spoken. Contra]dict not at every turn what others Say.
  88. Be not tedious in Discourse, make not many Digressigns, nor rep[eat] often the Same manner of Discourse.
  89. Speak not Evil of the absent for it is unjust.
  90. Being Set at meat Scratch not neither Spit Cough or blow your Nose except there’s a Necessity for it.
  91. Make no Shew of taking great Delight in your Victuals, Feed no[t] with Greediness; cut your Bread with a Knife, lean not on the Table neither find fault with what you Eat.
  92. Take no Salt or cut Bread with your Knife Greasy.
  93. Entertaining any one at table it is decent to present him wt. meat, Undertake not to help others undesired by the Master.
  94. If you Soak bread in the Sauce let it be no more than what you [pu]t in your Mouth at a time and blow not your broth at Table [bu]t Stay till Cools of it Self.
  95. Put not your meat to your Mouth with your Knife in your ha[nd ne]ither Spit forth the Stones of any fruit Pye upon a Dish nor Cas[t an]ything under the table.
  96. It’s unbecoming to Stoop much to ones Meat Keep your Fingers clea[n &] when foul wipe them on a Corner of your Table Napkin.
  97. Put not another bit into your Mouth til the former be Swallowed [l]et not your Morsels be too big for the Gowls.
  98. Drink not nor talk with your mouth full neither Gaze about you while you are a Drinking.
  99. Drink not too leisurely nor yet too hastily.Before and after Drinking wipe your Lips breath not then or Ever with too Great a Noise, for its uncivil.
  100. Cleanse not your teeth with the Table Cloth Napkin Fork or Knife but if Others do it let it be done wt.
  101. a Pick Tooth.

  102. Rince not your Mouth in the Presence of Others.
  103. It is out of use to call upon the Company often to Eat nor need you Drink to others every Time you Drink.
  104. In Company of your Betters be no[t longer in eating] than they are lay not your Arm but o[nly your hand upon the table].
  105. It belongs to the Chiefest in Company to unfold his Napkin and fall to Meat first, But he ought then to Begin in time & to Dispatch [w]ith Dexterity that the Slowest may have time allowed him.
  106. Be not Angry at Table whatever happens & if you have reason to be so, Shew it not but on a Chearfull Countenance especially if there be Strangers for Good Humour makes one Dish of Meat a Feas[t].
  107. Set not yourself at the upper of the Table but if it Be your Due or that the Master of the house will have it So, Contend not, least you Should Trouble the Company.
  108. If others talk at Table be attentive but talk not with Meat in your Mouth.
  109. When you Speak of God or his Atributes, let it be Seriously & [wt.] Reverence.
  110. Honour & Obey your Natural Parents altho they be Poor.

  111. Let your Recreations be Manfull not Sinfull.
  112. Labour to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of Ce[les]tial fire Called Conscience.

Finis

Complement Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation with this timeless 1866 guide to the art of conversation.

Thanks, Cojourneo

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