Re: Techwriter Skills List

Subject: Re: Techwriter Skills List
From: Nancy Hayes <nancyh -at- PMAFIRE -dot- INEL -dot- GOV>
Date: Tue, 23 Apr 1996 22:57:10 GMT

RE: Candace' excellent post

Great list. Of course, I still think "run like the devil" is good
advice. On the more serious side, when we did a survey about what makes
a good tech writer, we actually ended up patterning our ideal writer
after the job description of the engineer in the Dictionary of
Occupational Titles. (The one for writer-editor isn't necessarily
helpful for tech writers). Basically, it boiled down to four things.

1. Be able to research a technical process. Be able to understand
enough about the process (or learn enough about the process) to ask
questions and sift through the vendor data.

2. Rhetoric and logic. Be able to analyze the process: inputs,
outputs, boundaries.

3. Writing ability (granted this should be obvious, but it isn't
always).

4. Communication: verbal, written, etc.

At least in my group, the writer functions almost like an engineer. The
writer heads up the development team (usually the writer, operator, and
facility engineer). The writer may facilitate the structured analysis of
the process. The writer does much of the preliminary research; advanced
writers may actually end up as research assistants to the engineer.
After writing the draft, the writer consolidates the comments from the
SME and resolves them. Then the development team validates the procedure
(usually by a walkthrough).

Nancy Lynn Hayes (nancyh -at- pmafire -dot- inel -dot- gov) Carpe Diem
Seize the Day!

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