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.
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.
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.