Writing Seminar

Writer's Workshops are important

Secondly, write one-page essays on craft elements about how great writers do it — imagery, line breaks, etc.

Writing according to some set of 15 tricks doesn't work.

The book? Dick finds the terminology to be confusing. Is it about teaching how to speak the vocabulary? If so we need to make that linkage somewhere — in the sequences?

Who is the audience? Were going to have the introductory chapter but it hasn't been written. The remainder of the book is for more advanced.

A good piece of writing serves as its own manual for how to read it. A good poem helps the reader become more adept at reading the rest of the work. As an example, a lot of patterns use the generic "you" without a clear antecedent. As you're reviewing your own pattern or passage, you're always thinking: Where could this go wrong? So a good tool is to write the instructions to go from where you are to somewhere you want them to go (out the door, across the railroad track).

Part of this is landmarks for people to know they are going in the right direction.

Avoid scaffolding — statements that are there for *your* benefit but which don't really help the reader. They're hard to spot. You need to forget yourself — there is stuff in your head that you infer comes from the page but which really doesn't, so you lose the reader. You need to go into shallow-mindedness. Sometimes, letting it set on the shelf for several months helps; having at least one sleep cycle may be important.. You can try cleansing the palate (e.g., go read something else or work on something else, or go for a a run). Another trick: Put the manuscript on the wall and read it from the other side of the room using binoculars.

A pattern is a teaching document. The bolds and stars help knowledgable readers take shortcuts through.

Another issue for the book: A piece of writing is most effective when you can feel the person behind it. (That's the reason for the initial reading in the Writers Workshop.) Richard often picks the reading selection, and he often picks a piece that's a bit clumsy so the author starts to feel how others see their writing.

Academics use "information transfer:" declarations, facts. If you're writing and you're thinking about elegance, precision, or other things outside the flow of writing, you're thinking of something outside yourself. Start writing just as if you are a great writer let it flow, and then revise like crazy.

Revise, revise, revise. Get feedback — both by reading it out loud to yourself. 

Link paragraphs together. Use similar sounds, similar words that link things together. If you want American people to remember something, use short words that are strongly emphasized.

One thing people have a hard time getting write is to get the sequencing right. People fall in love with their wording and fail to get paragraphs or even chapters in the wrong order.

The most understandable is a link of things that set up context and lead up to the topical material at the end. It should be honored at several levels of scale (http://www.amazon.com/Style-Clarity-Chicago-Writing-Publishing/dp/0226899152).

Walking is one step at a time. We have long sentences that say "the point of doing this is that it is important to..." which is a form of scaffolding. Passive writing is sometimes similar. 

Patterns are written by different people. Someone has to supply the surface voice. So far we've talked about the information being conveyed along with psychological linkages and attitude. Beyond this is the prettiness of the sentences: sentences that you don't notice. Like John Gardner, who was a very good teacher of writing, using vivid and continuous dream: when you start reading you appreciate everything that's there but is not interfering with what is there. The words just flow into you with the "nice construction of sentences."

Glossary? Hardest things that humans can write. A glossary ought to be at the middle level. Engineers go too deep (examples, mechanisms) and at the other end of the spectrum are too fluffy.

A pattern language is to build something. It should guide you through the decisions and problems you will face will help you design it. You start from lay of the land and progress and as you get to a project language, helps you understand what kind of thinking you need to do next to move ahead. You can't think about 243 things at a time. Part of it is the organization of the chapters.

Academics: If a lot of CS people should read this it should have a short, understandable title. If you can read understand the title then that thing is for you. If the title is opaque, then it's a single to "Stop!" and you may need to understand more to understand the written work.

The audience is anyone who thinks they understand the Scrum Guide. Dina is concerned about referencing the pattern without a description because it's too decontextualized. So Dina would like each reference contextualized. The book approach is that forward references in the Resulting Context can use a bit of extemporization; the pattern itself does more complete extemporization; subsequent references only appeal to the name.

To improve the Resulting Contexts we need to make them more literate by changing bullet lists into prose.

If I were king, I would arrange for all of the patterns to be done in a Scrum Blitz way, where a member of each of the teams is someone who is otherwise a good writer. That worked in the session where Joe had the keyboard. Ademar: We can immediately go to the meat. Dick says that the moderator is generally getting in the way. Ordinary Writer's Workshops is that we're each doing our own thing, We're getting better at this. The moderator just keeps moving us on and making sure no one insults anyone else.

Maybe run this by JJ to get his feeling about "ceiling and floor" of the level of the book?

Dick recommends thinking about personæ and considering the reaction of that constituency to it.


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