Re: Technical Writing: a Calling?!?

Subject: Re: Technical Writing: a Calling?!?
From: Shmuel Ben-Artzi <sba -at- NETMEDIA -dot- NET -dot- IL>
Date: Sat, 10 Aug 1996 11:06:13 +0200


Actually, Moshe is very much on target here. Let me give you a parallel
example from the world of the theater. If a piece of scenery calls attention
to itself instead of contributing to your enjoyment of the action unfolding
on the stage, then it is poorly crafted. (There are, of course, times when
you want to specifically call attention to a piece of scenery in and of
itself, but these are rare exceptions.) If a particular lighting shift makes
you "ooh and ah" while distracting you from what should be the primary focus
of attention, then it is badly planned and executed.

The analogy holds precisely to good writing. The "invisible" writer, to use
Moshe's phrase is one who has accomplished the task of defining, informing
or whatever while not calling attention to themself. If the level of
language used is so overly stilted as to call attention to itself, then the
document is poorly crafted. The same is true if there are numbers of errors,
if the sentence construction is overly complex, or if the language, style,
syntax or grammar in any way call attention to themselves, thus distracting
the reader from what should be the true focus of the document.

Shmuel Ben-Artzi
sba -at- netmedia -dot- net -dot- il

At 16:25 9/8/96 PDT, you wrote:
>Moshe Koenig writes:

>>In fact, I would go so far as to say that technical writing is writing
>>that is transparent by definition; the writer becomes invisible in
>>good technical documentation.

>That's a pretty strange definition. I would think that technical writing
>has a job to do, which is to inform the reader as to some set of techniques.
>It is possible for good technical writing to be highly mannered -- read HOW

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