Analytical Writing for Science and Technology
Copyright © 1996 by T. M. Georges.
We've covered a lot in a short time. Yet we've covered only a small part of what you'll need to learn to become a good writer. Learning how to write analytically is a complex job that demands clear thinking and hard work. You've not only had to learn and practice new skills, but you also had to change some deep-seated attitudes. I've been very careful to select only a few of the most powerful tools you'll need to begin making your writing clearer and more informative. That's because I think it's important for you to get started and see some of the rewards before you have time to get overwhelmed and discouraged by the size of the task.
I've arranged this course to make it easy for you to take those tools with you, so you can refine your new skills on the job. To make that even easier, I've summarized the main points we've covered in the final checklist in Lesson 21. Use this checklist as you're writing, together with the checklists from Lesson 8 that appply to your particular writing tasks.
After seeing so many examples of atrocious writing, you might enjoy reading some really outstanding technical writing. They're not easy to find, but here are three:
Feynman, R.P., R.B. Leighton and M. Sands, "The Feynman Lectures on Physics," (3 vol.) Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., Reading, MA, 1963 (paperback).
Kinsman, B., "Wind Waves -- Their Generation and Propagation on the Ocean Surface," Prentice-Hall Pub. Co., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1965.
Samuelson, P. A., "Economics", Mc Graw-Hill, New York, 1973 or later editions.
If you're serious about learning how to write well, these books are worth buying, just for the inspiration they provide.
As you notice your writing improving and getting easier, your colleagues should notice, too. Be sure to ask them what differences they see and what they like and don't like about your new writing habits. Don't take individual negative comments too seriously, unless you hear the same thing from several people. The reinforcement you get from their feedback is a vital part of your writing effort; the positive results your writing produces should encourage you to refine your skills even further.
To become a really good writer, you'll need to pay attention to the finer points of good grammar and usage. Lots of books cover that subject thoroughly. Look through the bibliography, or check your library. Remember, however, that the point of business and technical writing is to inform, not to conform to rules. Studying the examples of clear writing that you've collected (and building your collection) is probably a more efficient way to hone your writing skills than studying textbooks.
Table of Contents || Bibliography