Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Intensely Right Words

Writers, technical or creative, need to draw on a wide realm of experience.

Every writer, technical or creative, has the same access to the million or so recognized words in our language.  Writers want to be to words what Michelangelo was to Carrara marble. he carved his David from a block of marble abandoned for years in a quarry. Most sculptors considered the block too narrow to hold the top half of its own weight, essential in sculpture. Michelangelo placed David's hips in the block's narrow part, turning the hips at an angle to work with the flaws, not against it.

How, then is successful writing measured? Mozart's Die Zauberflote was so beloved that patrons arrived at the theater three hours early to get a seat.  Charles Dickens novels, serialized in America, were so popular that readers would line the docks in New York harbor to watch as the ship from England bearing the latest installation rose on the horizon.

Who will mine the quarry of technical writing? Who will be the artisans of online documentation? What hallmarks will their successful writing contain? Mark Twain admonishes "a powerful agent is the right word. Whenever we come upon one of those intensely right words, the resulting effect is physical as well as spiritual, and electrically prompt."

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