Once upon a Time in Technical Writing

Stories are the commonest way the ethics, histories, information, insights, and knowledge have passed on to the younger generations. Through its multiple forms, storytelling focuses on building touch points to get messages across: Something that we too do as technical writers. I try to find the threads that storytelling shares with technical writing. And, here’s what I find as I try to delve.

Connect Those Pesky Dots

“For god sake, once, just once, connect those pesky dots. Can’t you see that I can’t understand anything? Even a word?” That’s what I often say when I look at bad write-ups. I just can’t connect those pesky dots to see what the story is. But, am I the only one who rubbishes write-ups that often? Don’t you too?

I think a write-up is bad because it doesn’t tell me anything. So, if it is poem, I am like “Uh!” and if it is a story, I’m like “So?” Write-ups that do not take either me or my learning from, for example, point A to point B are bad write-ups for me. I do not read poems. Not from all the writers. I am choosy, because not all writers do justice to their works. But, here’s one who I read quite often, and every time I see a new poem, I realize the poet wants me to step into her shoes and flow through the story she narrates.

But then there are those writers, who can beautify their words, and still fail to get the messages across. In contrast, I would love to read those writers who can break the ice, tell me a story, and make me smell the flowers as I read through their texts – just like the Juhi’s poems I just shared with you. Such writers, I believe, are a lot more effective. That’s because they have a message for me. Beautification is not a message. Beautification may be important, but not for me.

My take? Fiction, non-fiction, biographies, and poems: I see that the quality of write-ups (good or bad) depends on the flow of thoughts from the intentions to the messages. This flow is what can help us connect those pesky little dots. The message in the flow is about something that I either need to know or am interested to know about. And, as long as the writer can help usher me through the tides of the emotions, and still communicate the message and bring me (or my learning) from point A to point B, I’m good.

Plain, simple rules, aren’t they? Flow and message! But, why am I writing this to you? Why? Or, is it not something you already know? How many of us not write to rant out our pain? How many of us write for the fun and soul in writing? I am not sure. Not sure, because I know that writing isn’t always for a purpose. Not sure, because we know that we know the principles or the idea, and yet not follow it. Most of us don’t. But, I think I do. Do you?

The Inverted Tree of Information

I will start this post where I ended the previous one: the inverted tree structure of information categorization. As promised, I will talk about my interpretations on some of the verses in the Bhagwad Gita, which is a great source of inspiration for me on both, personal as well as professional grounds. Click here to read the full post.

Key to Quality Documentation

In this post, I’ve combined my understanding of the topics of rhetoric and minimalism to create two basic, understandable parts of the purpose of documentation: mean what you say and say what you mean. I’ve also talked about how the use of these two parts can improve the effectiveness in documentation.

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Rhetoric Series: Part 2

This is the second post in the series of rhetoric. In the first post, I talked about the logos, ethos, and pathos. In this post, I have designed a new methodology, and connected to the five canons of rhetoric.

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Rhetoric Series: Part 1

This is the first part of the series of posts. The second part is appropriately linked in the comments section of the post. Rhetoric, as a study, is increasingly becoming relevant in the technical communication industry. Writers, editors are now feeling the need to incorporate a rhetorical approach to improving the effectiveness of their work… and hope that it improves the readability (readership?).

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