Re: Creativity in Technical Communications (short)

Subject: Re: Creativity in Technical Communications (short)
From: Jim Purcell <jimpur -at- MICROSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 1997 17:05:03 -0800

Barb Philbrick avers:

>To me, the biggest difference between novel writing and
technical
> >writing is that if you write a novel, you write in a personal style
> >and hope your audience finds you. In technical writing, you learn
> >about your audience and write to its style.
>
> A more important difference is that the artistic writer sets out to
> misdirect and frustrate the reader's expectations as long as possible
> with all the literary devices at his disposal. The technical writer
> attempts just the opposite: we try to fulfill the reader's
> expectations in as few words and with as little ornamentation as
> possible.
>
> There is still plenty of room in technical writing for creativity and
> imagination, if not for art. All technical writing is essentially a
> narrative, and the reader is an evolving character in the narrative.
> It's just that our narratives are on the prosaic side: computer user
> with unsaved file ends up with saved file. EPA official gains
> understanding of the impact a new water treatment facility will have
> on a community. Not as glamorous as getting Elizabeth Bennett to the
> altar, to be sure, but it's the same principle, pursued with more
> single-mindedness: we attempt to get our character, in this case the
> reader, from point A to point B, and we use all the rhetorical devices
> at our disposal to do so. The intersection of writerly creativity and
> technical problem solving is what makes this profession so
> interesting, don't you think?
>
> Jim Purcell
> jimpur -at- microsoft -dot- com
> My opinions, not Microsoft's
>

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