Re: The "Too Familiar" problem

Subject: Re: The "Too Familiar" problem
From: Michael Collier <mcollier -at- arlut -dot- utexas -dot- edu>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2000 09:27:38 -0600

David Downing <DavidDowning -at- users -dot- com> wrote:

> I have to write some very general introductory material for some software I've been
> documenting at a detailed level, and I'm having trouble looking at it from the
> outside.
> Anyone having any thoughts, point of view, etc., on how to handle this?

You're right about this difficulty and the ability to master it
disinguishes writing from other skills. The detailed view sacrifices the
big picture for the sake of completeness and precision.

I'm reminded of writing exercises where you have to describe an object,
say an orange, in excruciating detail from the point of view of all
senses. You would never realistically write something like that except
as an academic exercise, or if you had to describe it scientifically.
But the enhanced knowledge you gain of your subject gives you a greater
range of choices over what you communicate about it, depending upon the
purpose of what your are writing. It's about directing what you know
about your subject towards a particular perspective.

One suggestion is to get the marketing perspective on the software and
use that to help bring you back to the big picture. Doing some marketing
type writing from time to time might help keep your perspective
flexible.

................................................................
Michael Collier, Technical Writer Office: N546
Information Systems Laboratory http://isl.arlut.utexas.edu/
Applied Research Laboratories: The University of Texas at Austin
Voice: 512-835-3408 e-mail: mcollier -at- arlut -dot- utexas -dot- edu
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