Keeping Your Writing SimpleWritten by Robert Brents
he good folks who buy your how-to manual do not want to read anything complicated or hard to comprehend. They bought your manual to help them solve a specific problem, quickly, easily, and efficiently.
You’ve heard acronym “KISS” – “Keep It Simple, Sport!” Obey this admonition and you can’t go wrong. This isn’t Hemmingway we’re writing here, folks. Just facts. Write what’s in your head, then fine tune it, but don’t over-write! We’re trying to clear fog here, not contribute to it.
Fortunately for users of word processing programs, there are a number of tools to help us in our quest for simplicity and clarity.
In Microsoft Word, for example, under Tools menu item, there’s a selection for “Word Count”. Clicking on this option will display (logically enough) number of words in our whole document plus some other information about document.
More importantly, when you run Spelling and Grammar checker from Tools Menu, at end you will get a display of number of sentences per paragraph, along with other statistics, two of which we’ll focus on next.
When Word finishes checking spelling and grammar, it can display information about reading level of document, including following readability scores. Each readability score bases its rating on average number of syllables per word and words per sentence.
Why Write?Written by Robert Brents
There are lots of reasons for writing generally, and for writing how-to manuals specifically.
Some people write because they are passionate about their subject. They have to write. They couldn’t be happy if they weren’t writing. While I love topics I write about, I can and do go months at a time without writing anything that will end up in a how-to manual.
To me there’s nothing quite as intimidating as a blank sheet of paper (or a blank computer screen with that cursor blinking accusingly at me) that I’m proposing to commit my brilliant (I hope!) ideas to for thousands of other people to read. However, once I remind myself how good I’ll feel when manual is done and how many people may benefit from my work, I just break ice and write ype/dictate something – anything! -- then rest begins to flow!
If what you write your how-to manuals about are based on subjects you enjoy, you will derive great pleasure from writing them. It won’t be a “chore” – and it shouldn’t be. Especially if you are starting part-time.
If thought of sitting down and writing your how-to manual, or preparing your manuscript for publication, or doing marketing and promotion makes you groan, you probably won’t be motivated enough to do it, and your business won’t succeed. Personally, this business is one of top two or three things I prefer to do as a business activity. I haven’t had a “9-to-5 job” of any kind in over four years.