What Would You Do with a Writer Who Can't Write?

Subject: What Would You Do with a Writer Who Can't Write?
From: "Doug Duplessis" <unclebonsai -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2003 13:40:43 -0700

I'm working with a writer who doesn't seem to know how to write. Copy and technical edits are taking more time than I can spare. Despite agreeing to the project style sheet, he consistently ignores it. For some of his work, it is less time for me to rewrite the entire topic than to edit and return to him to put in changes (most of which he ignores). I mean, here is a sample of a procedure he wrote:

To rightclick in a window:
1. Choose Setup>Setup Preferences>Main. The Preferences dialog box will appear at this point. Input your preference per the Setup Instructions.

2. Product clears the window and will display a Setup Preferences screen when you are done inputting your preferences.
3. Place your mouse or rather the pointer in any gray area of your window except the area about an inch from the left margin and click with your right mouse button to have a menu appear.

It goes on like that.

He can't write a procedure, he can't use consistent language. He doesn't know the product we're working on and he doesn't know much beyond basic MS Word. I'm contracting and he was recently hired full-time.

I'm not sure how or if I should go to management--is it a contractor's "place" to bring things like this up? It is frustrating to do my work and some of his. During the last joing project, I wrote 184 topics to his 24. The job market is tight--and I don't want to "cause a situation" as they say around here.

I don't want to go behind his back, and I don't want to show up in a manager's office with a stack of evidence. I should mention that there is no documentation manager; we're managed by an overtasked development manager who thinks technical writers just "pretty up" things. (His words.)

Help and advice appreciated--chocolate isn't working anymore.

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