"What Makes a Good Writer Good, and a Bad Writer Bad?"
And a Bad Writer Bad?<br />What Makes a Good Writer Good?<br />Presented by Congree, Inc.<br />June 29, 2011<br />Glendale, CA<br />
Outline<br />Meeting the Characters and Setting the Stage<br />Understanding the Challenges<br />Locking in Good Writing Habits<br />Avoiding Bad Habits<br />Conceptualizing Standards and Practices<br />Implementing Standards and Practices (Congree Demo)<br />Questions and Answers<br />
The Writers:<br />Gary is a Good Writer – he keeps to standards and practices that make his writing valuable to his employers and clear for his audience.<br />Bob is a Bad Writer – he doesn’t know what makes writing good, or just doesn’t care. Bob could use some improvement.<br />
The Challenge:<br />Gary and Bob are each assigned half of the technical writing work on an important product manual for their company. Their boss expects it to be done quickly, efficiently, and clearly.<br />
The Twist:<br />Que?<br />Gary and Bob also need to take into account that the manual will be translated into Spanish by the company’s localization team – this means their writing has to be as amenable to translation as possible.<br />
Getting Started:<br />Gary always follows a few basic principles before he starts writing:<br />He speaks to the engineers to understand the terms he’ll need to use.<br />He speaks to his marketing people to understand the audience that will be reading the manual.<br />He consults his corporate style guide to ensure he knows the proper phrasing and punctuation, etc.<br />He subordinates the uniqueness of his own writing style to ensuring consistency in the text that he (and others) is writing.<br />Gary chooses the proper editor for the job, given his options.<br />
Getting Started (wrong):<br />Bob follows a similar process to Gary, but omits several key items:<br />Bob checks his terminology guide, but doesn’t consult the terms team.<br />Bob understands his assignment, but doesn’t understand for whom the assignment is ultimately destined.<br />Bob uses the editor he’s familiar with, even if it’s not the best choice for the job.<br />Bob never considers that his work is going to need to be translated, and instead focuses on writing in the ways that he was trained.<br />
Which Text Editor Should You Use? <br />?<br />Editors are generally a matter of personal preference, but ensure that the tool you want to use is the right one for your particular area.<br />
Know Your Audience<br />Remember that all technical writing does not need to be “technical,” nor does it need to be complex. <br />Ask yourself:<br />Who is going to read this manual – both drafts, and after release?<br />What is the goal that I’m trying to get across with every section I write?<br />Don’t treat them as if they’re like this:<br />If your readers are more like this:<br />
Know the Style Guide:<br />Does your company have an official style guide, or do you use a pre-fab one? Is it modified?<br />Understand the rules of the style guide, but know when to bend them for the sake of clarity and consistency.<br />If you don’t have a style guide, consult with all the other writers and editors on the project to ensure you’re all coming from the same place.<br />Always think about “tone.”<br />Take into account outside issues, such as the need to make text amenable to translation, when developing and implementing style guides.<br />
Automate Consistency to Increase Creativity<br />When we write in any context, we want to inject the text with our own voice – and that’s good!<br />However, too often our own unique writing style leads to inconsistencies in the tone, terminology, style, or diction of a text – and that’s bad! <br />We can remain creative and unique, yet still maintain consistency in our text by ensuring we stick to style guides, and by ensuring we automate the processes by which we structure our documents.<br />
Implementation<br />Even if we plan properly and are completely satisfied with our setup, the biggest challenge is ensuring implementation of our rules.<br /><ul><li>Without an automated means to conform text to our corporate style, we’re exposing ourselves to human error and limiting our potential consistency.
Software can give us the tools we need to conform our writers to our style guides, custom or standard, and do so automatically and within the editors we choose.</li></li></ul><li>Congree<br />Congree can be used for exactly this purpose.<br />DEMO<br />
Wrap Up<br />Remember:<br />Maximize consistency through software tools.<br />Implement style guides easily and automatically.<br />Take into account your audience, both within and without.<br />Understand the proper terms, and the right text editor, for the job.<br />Gary<br />Bob<br />