You might not want to read my latest book…

That seems a strange thing for an author to say – but the book I just finished writing is a bit … Well… it has lines in it like…

10 0 * * * root /exc/dbdump Cdiv –f + | gzip –c >      and so on.

I guess this is where I confess that I am a bit of a geek. Or nerd. Or techie… there are a lot of words for it.

In my day job I do database and workflow design with large computer systems for making TV programmes and films. I’ve just finished writing a training course for system administrators, including some pretty advanced IT ‘stuff’. The book is almost 400 pages long. I think that’s longer than any of my novels.

The cover is definitely not as pretty as my novel covers.

Although it’s a totally different type of writing, as I did it, it occurred to me there are some similarities between writing a technical training course book and writing a novel.

First – good grammar and spelling and sentence structure are essential for both. Punctuation too.

A novel has to show an unfolding story – provide some background and explanation – otherwise what happens next won’t make sense. The same is true of a training manual. The early chapters (well… lessons) prepare the attendees for what’s ahead and give them the knowledge they need to carry on.

There’s no dialogue in a training guide, but it does have to contain explanations of various things – presented in much the same way as the trainer does when speaking.

Part of me wants to open the technical book at random and turn something like this…….

… into this and see if any of the students notice.

You have to maintain the reader,s interest in whatever you write – a novel or a technical manual. It’s probably easier in a novel, because the reader is there for enjoyment. Although, a lot of people enjoy learning new things as well.

And of course, there has to be a climax… That’s easy in a novel – the moment of greatest conflict and resolution.

In a training course – it’s the exam. And the happy ever after comes when you pass and get the certificate. And you may even catch the glimpse of a promotion or pay rise in your future.

In totally honesty, I enjoy writing novels more than writing technical manuals – but both provide their own challenges. That’s what I like to do all the time – challenge myself. And I do believe that whatever you write, if you do your best to write it well, the experience will make you a better writer for all things.

And now – it’s back to the Aussie bush and my next novel.

8 thoughts on “You might not want to read my latest book…

  1. Yup you’re right I don’t think it’s for me. 😀 But huge respect for being able to do both types of writing and fascinating to read about the similarities. Good luck with it and your next novel.


  2. Hmm, that went right over my head! I’d love to be able to understand computers. I think my moment of climax might be smashing the thing against the wall when it crashes for the umpteenth time … 🙂

    But I take your point about construction and clarity – the processes are similar. Good thing you’re good at both, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have those ‘smash it against the wall’ moments too Jenny. It the equivalent of those moments of doubt when writing a novel. I think its some ways it’s a good ting – it just makes me go and learn some more so I can fix things.

      Liked by 1 person

    • You are forgiven for not reading this one Sue. But in a strange way, when I turned to the next novel this week, I felt very much refreshed and excited… so maybe the writing contrast is a good thing.

      Liked by 1 person

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