"It Ain't Literature, Y'know" -Reply

Subject: "It Ain't Literature, Y'know" -Reply
From: Ellen Fenwick <ELLEFENW -at- MAILSTN -dot- SARMC -dot- ORG>
Date: Thu, 8 Aug 1996 10:55:37 -0600

Bruce Byfield wrote:

". . . technical writing isn't literature. It doesn't require any thought about
characters, dialogue or imagery . . . ."

I am of a different opinion. I believe imagery can be woven into technical
writing. Of course, like all things, it must be done well to be effective.

Also, I believe that characters and dialog have a place in certain types
of technical writing. I am thinking particularly of training materials and
video scripting, where plots, characters, and motivations can be used
with great effectiveness.

As a personal example . . . I've been working on training materials for a
hospital to explain a computerized patient care system. We created
several patients, each with different health problems, and take the
trainee through their admission, surgery, subsequent care, and
discharge. The patients become "real." They talk about their concerns
and pain, their relatives visit them, they improve and get well (although
we gave them an outrageous number of ailments, in order to exercise all
parts of the patient care system, we cured all of them!). I believe these
"plots" work well in involving the trainees in the lessons and sustaining
their interest.

Ellen Fenwick
ellefenw -at- mailstn -dot- sarmc -dot- org

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