Re: More personable tech writing

Subject: Re: More personable tech writing
From: fretz <tscom002 -at- 129 -dot- 25 -dot- 3 -dot- 11>
Date: Wed, 10 Nov 1993 17:56:33 -0500

>I absolutely agree that manuals (which can be inherently dull anyway) are much
>more readable if the author is "conversational" in tone and friendly versus
>"invisible" and cold.

Alicia Fretz
Drexel U

Reply-To: Steven Owens <uso01 -at- MAILHOST -dot- UNIDATA -dot- COM>

>>Perhaps we can start another thread here; what do you (list members)
>>think of the idea of making a book more "personable", to more
>>effectively engage the reader's imagination?

>>Standard practice seems to be for the writer to be invisible,
>>ego-less. For a reference work, perhaps, but what about tutorials,
>>introductory pieces, etc?

>>What about using expressions and turns of phrase that are not generic,
>>but rather specific to the writer's, ahem, prose?

>One thing that I try to do (and I occasionally get dinged by my editor
>for it) is maintain a conversational tone, especially in tutorial and
>"user manual" type pieces. I'm not sure that it's _my_ personality
>that I'm letting shine through; rather, I try to sound like a peer to
>my user. This includes using _their_ jargon (common usage terms),
>using contractions, and any other devices appropriate to the piece that
>make the end user feel comfortable with _me-the-book_.

>In pieces aimed toward a poor-dumb-user (pdu) audience, this includes
>spicing up examples with a fair amount of humor. I keep a list of
>names like Phil O'Dendron and Les Danse -- perfect for populating
>databases with -- and show merge letter examples from park ranger
>Captain S. Tate Parks.

>In pieces aimed toward the application developer, executive, or other
>"professional" level user, I maintain a more business like and "crisp"
>style -- a kind-of "let's get down to business" approach.

>IMHO, you can engage your readers and stimulate their imagination more
>effectively by spotlighting their (collective) egos -- not by remaining
>ego-less, and not by foisting your own ego upon your readers.

>Works for me! (And by the way... Is everyone suitably impressed by my
>PCCP (politically correct contrived plural) prose???) ;^)

>Sue Gallagher |
>Sr. Technical Writer | "Updating a manual
>Easel Corporation | is like changing tires
>Enfin Technology Lab | on a moving car."
>San Diego, CA | -- Edmond Weiss
>Susan_Gallagher_at_Enfin-SD -at- relay -dot- proteon -dot- com |

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