About this Author
Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist for over 25 years and has covered the online world professionally since 1985. He founded the "Interactive Age Daily" for CMP Media, and has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age, and dozens of other publications over the years.
About this Site
Moores Law defines the history of technology. It held that the number of circuits etched on a given piece of silicon could double every 18 months as far as its author, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, could see. Moores Law has spawned constant revolutions since then, not just in computing but in communications, in science, in a host of areas. Moores Law applies to radios, and to optical fiber, but there are some areas where it doesnt apply. In this blog well take a daily look at new implications of Moores Law in real time, as it rolls forward to create our future.
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Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline
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February 18, 2006
Dana's Quick Writing Course
I've been writing for over 40 years, professionally for 30. If you're interested in doing the same, here's a simple four-step process that will make your writing all it can be.
Writing is easy to learn, easy to do. But it's the work of a lifetime. I'm still learning, and will be until I die. So get started now.
- Write. Don't think, write. Write everything about what you want to say. Don't worry about grammar, or spelling. Just think about everything you want to say and say it. This is sometimes called "writing down the bones." It's simple, it's pure, it's exhausting, it's exhilirating. And when you're done you may have an unholy mess. Don't worry about it.
- Find the story. After you finish your draft, and after you take some time away from it (an hour, a day, or even several days, depending on how long it is) go through what you have and find the story there. Look for the beginning, middle, and end.
- If you're writing non-fiction, find your lead. Move your key point to the front. If this is a news story, you then take the next most important point, and the next, and the next, in order. (The inverted pyramid lets an editor chop from the bottom.)
- If this is a magazine story, your lead is a sales pitch for what follows. You next want to tell the story in a coherent order, and finish with a revelation, a present for ther reader who finishes it, sometimes called a tag ending or rim shot.
- If this is fiction, find a key moment of high tension and start there. Then tell the back story, and lead your reader toward the climax.
- Again, after a rest, read it out loud. This is where you find your tone. Give voice to your story and you'll give your story a voice. If you sound stilted, or stuck-up, or lost, that's a problem you need to fix. Work with your draft until you can read it as a story, until you feel it's ready for an audience.
- Finally, polish. Now is when you worry about grammar, and spelling, about subject-verb agreement. Now is when you think about whether you want to violate some grammatical rules in the name of character, or story-telling, or a Tom Wolfe homage. Now is where you make everything sing. Now is where you might print out a copy and work from that, then print out a final copy.
It took me 40 years to work out the obvious. Don't waste that much time. Learn to write now. Write clearly, simply, and learn to enjoy writing. This is the path to leadership in whatever field you've chosen. This is how you give your life meaning.
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