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Bit of a rant on Writer's Duties (tangent to: Who's Job is it to Layout a Book?)
Subject:Bit of a rant on Writer's Duties (tangent to: Who's Job is it to Layout a Book?) From:"Wing, Michael J" <mjwing -at- INGR -dot- COM> Date:Fri, 16 Jul 1999 13:46:54 -0500
Sarah Stegal wrote:
> Not surprising, when most "reviewers" comment on the paint job and pay
> no attention whatsoever to the content.
> "Wing, Michael J" wrote:
> > Mike
> > P.S. Yes, I'm one of those who think that too many Writers spend too
> > time fretting over the paint job and not nearly enough time working on
> > engine.
Sorry if I misinterpret your reply, but my current interpretation
illustrates a point that I was trying to make in my P.S. It also touches
one of my Technical Writing hotspots. Namely the, "I'm just paid to write"
or, "That's all the SME told me" attitudes. To me, a Technical writer must
fill in the information gaps. This is done by means other than spoon
feeding by an SME.
My point (alluded to earlier) is that content is NOT the Reviewer's
responsibility. It is the Writer's responsibility. The reviewer/SME is "A"
resource, not the "ONLY" resource. As a writer, YOU must research, write,
verify, and refine content.
Just because a reviewer only comments on the paint job does not mean that
there is no engine. As a writer YOU must dig deeper for content despite
lack of feedback. A Technical Writer (as contrasted to a Re-Writer as
Andrew (I think it was he) called some writers) compensates for the lack of
reviewer comments. Possible ways are as follows:
-- Study the specifications, white papers, design documents and so forth.
-- Run the product yourself and develop/validate procedures and content.
Create and deploy various "What If" scenarios"
-- After researching the product, script some short-and-to-the-point
questions that the SME can answer quickly and precisely. Do this instead of
approaching them with the journalist/reporter blank page approach of, "ok,
let's take it from the top".
-- Review help desk and product support logs and resolutions.
-- Study the training material. Talk to the trainers.
-- Study the marketing material. Talk to the Marketing people, Sales reps,