Technical writing

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Technical writing

Many non-technical writers ask me how they can become a technical writer. My first response is this: You’re already a writer! You have to have the same skills as any writer – good grammar, good research, and good composition. I always say that every piece of writing needs a Beginning, a Middle, and a Happy-Ever-After ending! Technical writing is no different, except for a couple of important points.

Technical writing, as opposed to fiction, autobiographical or novel writing, has the following characteristics:

  • there is no emotion or any need to create an atmosphere or mood
  • sentences are shorter with usually one thought per sentence (a sentence is usually 13 to 15 words). Plain language is encouraged
  • depending on what industry you write for, there are conventions you must follow (for safety, etc.)
  • the passive voice is not encouraged, but it’s not frowned upon either
  • there’s no place for imagery or abstract statements
  • every fact must be checked and substantiated

The one thing that is absolutely essential? Curiosity. Your role is to make the complex understandable. To do that, you need to dig deep and find a way to explain it. If you don’t understand the concept yourself, you’ll never be able to explain it to anyone else!

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