Re: Redundancy & obscurity patrol -Reply

Subject: Re: Redundancy & obscurity patrol -Reply
From: Bill Sullivan <bsullivan -at- SMTPLINK -dot- DELTECPOWER -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 17 Jan 1996 09:09:56 -0800

>> At 1:31 PM 1/12/96, Cathy Quinones wrote:
> >...would anyone be interested in sharing tricks that
> >help keep one's writing streamlined, clean and honest?

One other thought on this subject concerns technical editing more
than technical writing. I often notice that the work of individual
engineers produces identifying characteristics like the wavy lines in
a fingerprint. It gets to where a person hands in a piece to you and
right away you know what faults to look for. One guy may be a nut
for passive voice. Another may take three paragraphs to get started.
Someone else invariably writes paragraphs backwards; you take the
sentences and reverse the order and you've got a much better
statement. Yet another may struggle with keeping to the outline.
And so forth. I personally struggle with windiness. And the big
bugaboo (not in every shop), the last-minute edits to the manual by
ten people, all in panic-mode, throwing sentences willy-nilly onto
the page with no regard to anything that has gone before or since,
and thinking it doesn't need editing.

If you edit the work of other people regularly, and this includes
your own work, you get where you can spot the characteristics that
require revision. Sometimes you can sit quietly with the person (or
sit with yourself) and the person may learn from you. I have to say,
however, that when it's me talking to me, I am a lousy listener. When
it's you editing your own work, it may help to write, put it away for
a few days, and come back to it.

Bill Sullivan
bsullivan -at- deltecpower -dot- com
San Diego, CA

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