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Tag Archives: Document Structure

On Document Templates: The Wall that Made Me Sad

I made a fake image in Photoshop–my fantasy world map hanging above the mantle in a fancy frame–and it reveals a surprising amount about document templates.

On Story Structure: Ariadne’s Thread

I’ve tried my hand at drawing mazes, and it’s a tough gig. It takes skill (and a few clever tricks) to make challenging mazes without succumbing to the tedium.

How to Build an e-Book from Your Blog

Most professional bloggers recommend writing and selling e-Books to get the most out of a professional blog. As a Tech Writer, I wrote an e-Book explaining how.

Act it Out (Creative Writing Exercise)

All this talk of document structure has me thinking back on some of my older projects. As I said in yesterday’s article, the series I’m working on now is highly structured — every book packed with three acts, five chapters per act, two scenes per chapter.

My older work isn’t really like that, though. My first effort at including any sort of structure in a story was King Jason’s War, and that was my fourth novel. I wonder what I’d find if I looked really closely at Taming Fire, or even The Poet Alexander….

The Three-Act Narrative

In that thought, I found my answer. The Ghost Targets series isn’t formula, it’s structured. Structure is a good thing. I still needed some comforting, though, so I found myself chasing down that path, thinking of all the creative document types that thrive under intensive structure. I said to myself, “What about haiku? What about sonnets?”

The Shape of a Document

Last fall I taught my first college-level writing course — Technical Writing at Oklahoma Christian University (my alma mater). My class consisted of a bunch of computer science and information technologies students, and a handful of English majors. It was an interesting mix.

I wasn’t out to teach them how to do my job. I did ask, first day of class, how many of them had considered becoming a Technical Writer after graduation. The answer (quite predictably) was none. When I got around to asking what they were planning on doing, every one of them named a profession that would require some proficiency with technical writing, even if it wasn’t their main job description.

Audience Analysis

My dad is in his first Creative Writing class, as I’ve mentioned before. His first assignment was to write something for the class to review. The assignment was vague, but its destiny was clear: the whole class would pass judgment on whatever it was he wrote.

Satisfying Resolutions

Last week we talked about the Conflict Resolution Cycle, and the structure of a story.

So what’s missing? The end. Every story is a contractual agreement between the writer and the reader. Your readers give up their valuable time to read your story, and in exchange they expect you to give them a story — a satisfying beginning, middle, and end. That means you’ve got to do more than make interesting characters and conflict. You’re responsible for building a valuable conclusion, too.

To-Do List (Technical Writing Exercise)

One of the rules of good technical writing goes, “Always include a paragraph of normal body text after every heading.” We’re going to get that practice this week with a good old-fashioned To-Do List. Make a list of all the projects you’re working on right now, all the stuff you need to get done, but spend some time formatting it and packing in information to make it useful to a reader other than you.

Finish Strong

How’s that for a happy ending? After fifteen weeks of teaching these kids — guiding them from total obliviousness through all the major topics, techniques, and types of technical writing — I got to their most important class (grade-wise), and my final, lasting impression, and let them fall flat on their faces.

How often have you made the same mistake, in your writing? You figured you’d explained the issue well enough in your introduction, you’d provided all of the relevant information in your body paragraphs. Your readers could figure it out, right? They’re all smart people. So what’s the point of laboring over a conclusion that’s probably not even necessary?