Re: Tech writer wannabe (Cincinnati -> Twin Cities)

Subject: Re: Tech writer wannabe (Cincinnati -> Twin Cities)
From: Melissa Hunter-Kilmer <mhunterk -at- BNA -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 3 Oct 1997 13:54:00 EST

Forwarded on request. (See postscript.)

Melissa Hunter-Kilmer
mhunterk -at- bna -dot- com
(standard disclaimer)

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Subject: RE: Tech writer wannabe (Cincinnati -> Twin Cities)
Author: Carol Van Natta <CVANNATT -at- itc -dot- nrcs -dot- usda -dot- gov> at INTERNET
Date: 10/3/97 12:09 PM

<snip>...Seems to me that his background would work well
in grant-writing and maybe proposal-writing. What do y'all
think?... <>

I can't speak for grant writing, but I'm all too familiar with
proposal writing. I'd gently but firmly steer your friend away
from it for a few years. Proposal writing is not for the
inexperienced. Deadlines are absolute, and mostly too short.
Brevity and concision are essential, both of which take some
practice to achieve. You also have to know the fine line between
what you can and cannot achieve given the budget, time, and
proposal requirements.

I'd suggest your friend apply to consulting environmental and
engineering firms; his credentials would impress potential
clients. Make him put together a portfolio. If he doesn't have
any real projects to use, have him make some up, as long as
he clearly marks them as such. For example, tech. writers
for such firms are often asked to edit, so have him take an
example of hideous writing (e.g., a VCR manual) and clean it
up, as a sort of before and after. He needs to counterweight
his heavily academic background with evidence that he can
be practical and business-oriented, and the portfolio would
help. He shouldn't expect a lot of money to begin with,
despite degrees out the wazoo.

I'd target firms that are large enough to afford tech. writers,
and especially those that encourage their staff to get
published. Also have your friend take a local college tech.
writing course -- it shows his interest, and he could make
some nice contacts.

Hope this helps.

Carol Van Natta
Senior Technical Writer
Fort Collins, Colorado

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