Re: What does a Tech Writer do ....

Subject: Re: What does a Tech Writer do ....
From: Sally Marquigny <SALLYM -at- MSMAILHQ -dot- NETIMAGE -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 7 Sep 1994 13:15:00 PDT

Hey, wait a minute! Am I way off base or isn't our field's purpose to
*elucidate* the mysteries of the technical world? Why not be *honest* (how
refreshing) and tell them, "I don't really know any more about microwaves
than you do because I write books about ABC brand widgets. But you're
right; this manual is extremely confusing to a layperson. I would suggest
you call the toll-free hotline listed in the front matter..."? Personally,
I'm so tired of computer people who wave wands and pronounce mumbo jumbo &
proceed to further screw up your system (and your mind). *That's* exactly
*why* I went into the training field & then into tech writing--to get rid of
the smoke & mirrors.

Sally Marquigny Network Imaging Systems
sallym -at- msmailhq -dot- netimage -dot- com Herndon, VA

To: Multiple recipients of list TECHWR-L
Subject: Re: What does a Tech Writer do ....
Date: Wednesday, September 07, 1994 11:49AM

Julie wrote the following as typical responses when she announces that she
writes computer user pubs:

>Response 1:
>O really? I just bought a <PREHISTORIC PC I'VE NEVER HEARD OF> for
>10 quid at a car boot sale last weekend and can't get it to work.
>Perhaps you could come round and have a look at it ...

>Response 2:
>Well I hope you write better manuals than the one that came with my
>[washing machine|video|microwave]... Here... Can YOU figure out how
>to make it do a 40 degree eco half load cycle with a pre-wash
>and 800 RMP spin from THIS...?

> [On this one, usually I (a) suggest they use the washing machine and not
>the microwave to achive this, (b) smile weakly, and (c) try to slither
>away, but it doesn't always work.]

Of course I get responses like this , too! I always frown in thought,
inspect whatever document they hand me, take a careful look at the
fridge/microwave/computer, check the connectors in the back, explain some
tremendously complicated jargon to them ("alternating current," "386
enhanced mode," "alternator brushes," etc) and even fix the thing if I can.
But if I can't, I just sigh very heavily and say, "Well, I know enough to
see you've got a problem, but I just write the pubs. You really ought to
have a tech look at it."

Hey, they are tremendously impressed by the time I am through. And building
respect is the name of the game! : ) A little theatrical training helps!
(After all, these are the people who just might need a tech writer some day
. . . . )

JeriWho -at- aol -dot- com

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