Re: skills for non-writers

Subject: Re: skills for non-writers
From: Chuck Beck <cbeck -at- BGNET -dot- BGSU -dot- EDU>
Date: Mon, 29 Jul 1996 16:24:13 -0400

>Elizabeth Boling asked, "If you were coaching people who were not
>professional tech writers through the preparation of materials for
>distribution to their peers, what would you consider to be the minimum
>skills that person would have to develop?"

As one who also teaches Tech Writing classes to people who are there only
because they have to take the course to graduate, I agree wholeheartedly
with what Miki has written. I use these and other, similar, techniques in my
Tech Writing classes, with great success.

I just wanted to add my endorsement FWIW to what Miki said on the subject.


>The most effective approach I have found for this audience is to take
>advantage of their speaking skills. I tell them to think of the writing as
if it
>were a conversation they were having, in which they answer the
>questions the other person is asking. Since they have all been in this
>situation, and feel comfortable talking about their skills and information,
>this is easy for them to imagine. Then what remains is to write down the
>questions, have them TELL me the answers, then write down what they
>just said. A few times through this process and they are able to come up
>with pretty decent first drafts. Whenever possible, I get them to buddy up
>with someone who doesn't know their area, and do a cross-check on
>each other's work.

>If you have the time, it is also very effective to use examples of excellent
>and awful material to help them learn how to see and specify the
>characteristics of each. From this, they can develop their own checklist
>to improve their work. Before and after type examples work well for this.

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