Learning a new art

I’m gradually getting a handle on writing non-fiction, by way of writing articles for the Ministry of Testing’s Dojo. This is a good thing, because I’m learning more about appropriate tone and not just rambling on screen as I tend to do with my blog posts.

The count so far is three articles published this year, with a fourth currently being split and reworked as a series/short ebook. Which led to me doing something I haven’t needed in my fiction (because narrative flow is something I usually get “free”) and didn’t need in the other articles I’ve done, namely printing the whole thing out so I could go through it and work out which parts were better housed in different segments/chapters.

My initial, mostly intuitive split into 4 parts is going to become 3 parts, with the content of the 4th part getting wrapped into conclusion sections I’ll be adding to the other three. A couple of sections will be moving more or less intact into other parts, and a few cuts and revisions are needed.

Mainly though, it’s been so long since I’ve needed to print something for edit phase purposes, I’d forgotten how much it clarifies the focus. Having each chapter as its own pile and marking content that would be better served in a different chapter is not something a computer screen does well. The purely physical piles of paper made the separation much clearer in my mind, which let me see what should and shouldn’t be in each chapter.

And that is something I’ll carry across to my fiction, the memory of just how powerful different types of context-shifting can be and how much easier it is to recognize content in the wrong place when you’ve got piles of paper grouped in some fashion than when you’ve got an on-screen view.

Also, how much of a challenge it can be to keep said piles of paper from being transformed into cat toys.


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