Looking for Encyclopedia of Writing

Subject: Looking for Encyclopedia of Writing
From: Henry Choy <choy -at- BUBBA -dot- UCC -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU>
Date: Sun, 7 May 1995 20:14:01 GMT

The expense of technical writing can be reduced if writers have an
encyclopedia of writing. Knowledge can reduce the time needed to compose
documents. Wasn't it Feigenbaum, well known in artificial intelligence
circles, who said "In the knowledge lies the power?"

A writer can learn a few basics from Strunk and White's The Elements of
Style, but still has to think a lot about writing. This kind of thinking
slows the writing and makes it expensive. Why do lawyers charge upwards
of $100 an hour? Because they know they have to spend the time---there
is no way you can find a competing lawyer who can write faster.

Knowledge about writing can definitely help you write faster. Computer
programmers are trained with far more detail than natural language
writers. Think of the money saved when a computer programmer can quickly
write a program. We would be thrilled to ply programmers with more and
more knowledge on programming. Programmers with access to an encyclopedia
of programming could only produce better software at less expense.

In my many years of study at university I have never observed any
colleagues refer to or recommend an encyclopedia of writing. Some may
consult a small volume, and many people have penned a tiny inconspicuous
book on the elementary topics, as if writers have no patience to read
a larger work written in the same stuffy style it preaches. Perhaps
these books are written on belief that the market would bear them rather
than in speculation of an enlightened market bearing more knowledge. Or
are the authors who help authors so humble and modest, or perhaps
insecure (financially or mentally), that they cannot bear to portray
more breadth and depth?

If there is an encyclopedia on writing, a combination of the examples
of anthologies and the advice of advice books, I would be forever
indebted to anyone who can drop its title.

--
Henry Choy "Math class is hard" - Barbie

e-mail: choy -at- cs -dot- usask -dot- ca "Stupid is as stupid does." - Mrs. Gump


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