I’m in the process of giving my manuscript another once-over before I hand it over to my eagle-eyed editor for a serious review. This effort is mostly to make certain I didn’t miss any glaringly obvious errors and to make certain the editor can focus on the content as much as possible. That said, I’m finding some stylistic tics that need to be addressed in switching from blog entries to a full-scale book.
Episodic vs. Narrative Writing
The stylistic issues are not necessarily bad, just a function of two different requirements.
Blogs, by their very nature, are episodic. People who don’t normally read this blog might come to a single post and have no context or experience with my writing before. As a result, personal historical information or anecdotes might get shared in more than one entry.
If you’re reading a book cover to cover, which is what I’m doing right now, you find that sharing the same story more than once becomes repetitious.
Also, I will often include some piece of my writing experience/background as a way to demonstrate to the one-time reader that I do, in fact, know what I’m talking about because I’m writing from experience. However, read these little back stories often enough, and it starts to sound like bragging or egotistical. That’s not my usual manner, but that’s how I’m coming across to me reading multiple stories/entries combined into chapters.
To eliminate or smooth over some of these inadvertent literary sins, I’m adding call-backs to remind the reader so it doesn’t sound so braggadocious (“As I mentioned in Chapter 2, my first NASA job was…”). Or sometimes I’m eliminating the background story if it appears unnecessary.
Mind you, this caution might not be necessary. The book is being structured so that it could function as a reference guide or could be read straight through, cover to cover. It is for people doing the latter that I’m taking the time to avoid repetition.
I don’t plan to change the writing style here on Heroic Technical Writing. I will continue to stick with the episodic method since I get new readers all the time. However, when the book comes out, hopefully those of you willing to read it cover to cover should not have exactly the same reading experience. I’m certain that if I’ve committed some horrible literary sin, I’ll learn about it soon enough. People on the internet are not shy about offering criticism.