I've just returned from a trip to the annual Agricultural Media Summit, held this year in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is great to spend time with fellow ag communicators and pick up ideas in the sessions and on the trade show floor. (I learned how to use a plasma cutter at the Miller booth, below.)
Non-fiction author William deBuys spoke about technical/science writing and I jotted down a few tips.
1. Don't beat around the bush.
2. Good writing has the rhythm and straightforwardness of natural speech. Imagine you are telling the story to a friend and write it down that way.
3. Use all five senses for vivid writing.
4. Show, don't tell.
5. Never rewrite when you are discouraged. Learn the difference between worrying a piece and revising it.
6. Less is often more. Vigorous writing is concise.
7. Vary your pace and think like a film editor: Use close-ups, zooms, and cutaways.
8. If you have heard that analogy or metaphor before, don't use it.
9. If things don't quite fit, if they resist explanation, pay special attention. You may be on to something.
10. Placement conveys emphasis. Last words, sentences, and paragraphs ring loudest in a reader's ear. First words, sentences, and paragraphs ring second loudest.