Make Rules For The Forest, Make Exceptions For A Tree

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger from Pexels

Hey there, hero!

I was in the lunch room at a client’s studio today, and I overheard a phrase I loved.

And it appears the person that said it created it, because when I Googled it, there wasn’t any result.

I’m jealous, because it’s awesome:

“You make rules for the forest, but you make exceptions for a tree.”

And it occurred to me that there are lots of examples in the world of performance.

Hope this helps!



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  1. I think this is the best version of the forest/tree analogy I have heard yet.

    I always read what’s on the page. This is a perfect example of a big difference between what looks good on a page does not necessarily sound good to the ear. Almost every author or RH who has heard a lonely number read for a chapter heading has asked me to change it for them and add “Chapter.”
    This has also happened more than once for homophones. I have had authors ask me to change it. I always agree but tell them they should think about it and then rewrite it, then edit the Kindle book.
    It’s not necessary and usually won’t trip up Whispersync but I think it’s good form.
    The same thing goes for typos. I used to point them out, now if the meaning is clear, I just read them correctly and let the author decide.

  2. With Dungeons and Dragons I try to let the dice fall where they may as the dungeon master, but if that means a disastrous outcome for my players, I’ll fudge the die roll. In my Magic the Gathering decks I usually follow a deck construction formula, but depending on the deck concept, I sometimes modify the formula. When I was single I had very strict guidelines for my behavior when outside a committed relationship, though I occasionally made exceptions within those guidelines. I like the forest and tree expression. Thanks for the video David.

  3. At the beginning of my career, I had to fire a client. It was very stressful for me–all those questions you ask yourself–and yet the very next day, along came a project that I wanted to do from someone who sincerely wanted my voice. The work was a difficult challenge, but it was a feather in my cap at a time when I was afraid I’d lost my chance to wear the hat. It was Royalty Share.

    This is my favorite tree in my still-growing client forest. I still do Royalty Share for him, and I’m glad to do it.

    Hey, on that “How do you say the chapter start?” question–you’re doing an audiobook, so (in my moderately skilled opinion), you should always say “Chapter” to orient the listener–they’re our end customer. It’ll make more sense to them the very first time you have chapter that starts “Chapter 3….2 days later,…”, etc. 😀