Rules, rules, rules (was Whaddya Know)

Subject: Rules, rules, rules (was Whaddya Know)
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 9 Apr 2001 17:40:53 -0700 (PDT)

I know all the rules for baseball. And I am a terrible baseball player.

Knowing the rules is only the beginning of mastering the game. There is much
more to baseball than just rules.

However, I can umpire a game very well.


Because I know all the rules well so I can spot errors easily.

Merely understanding how English works or why something goes somewhere does not
make you an accomplished writer. However, it may make you an accomplished
editor. Which in my vernacular is a person who merely refines other people's

In the world of tech writing there are two types of people: writers and

Now, here I go on a little voyage....

The purpose of all art is communication. Be that to explain the fear of death
or the stupidity of marketing - all art communications SOMETHING.

How it does that, depends on the media. Although, there are an significant
number of people we call "masters" of their respective disciplines who became
"masters" because they purposefully rejected the established "rules."

The purest measure of art is how well it fulfills the artist's intention. If I
intend to write a poem about cat farts, I had better effectively communicate my
message about cat farts to the reader. If I am unable to fulfill my own
artistic intention, then I am a failed artist. No matter how much genius I
think I have, if that genius never reaches anybody - it is all gone to waste.

Therefore, Bad artists lack the ability to translate their ideas (theories,
impressions, feelings, or knowledge) from wetware to media. The use of rules
is merely a mechanism to an end. It provides a familiar set of constructs your
audience can grab a hold of to see your message.

For the editor, the person tasked to refine another person's work, rules are
all there is. Without the original idea, the refiner is merely left to
interpret the work of another. Applying rules and structure to make it suit
their interpretation of the original vision.

Herein lies the dilemma? Are you a writer or an editor? Are you creating new
ideas or merely refining somebody else's?

If you're a writer: rules are not as relevant. You may pick and choose from
them as they suit your needs. Your focus is not to obey the rules, but transfer
your idea from brain to page. Rules may help that process, but again, they are
just a mechanism to an end.

If you are an editor: you don't really have such choices. The rules are the
rules. And while they may change and shift around, the basic mentality is
there: you must enforce structure upon that which is foreign.

To answer Dick's initial rant: he was hiring editors. They should know the
basic rules.

Andrew Plato
Writing has been berrry berrry good, to me.

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