Technical writing refers to a type of writing where the author outlines the details and operations of administrative, technical, mechanical, or scientific systems. The main goal of technical writing is to educate, direct, and give others the ability to use a certain system.
Types of Technical Writing
There are three main types of technical writing:
End-user documentation: This type of writing includes documents where the writer explains a topic to a novice so that they can understand technical terms and apply them in a real-life situation. Traditional technical writing: This is writing that is geared to an audience already at least somewhat familiar with a technical field such as engineering or politics. Technological marketing communications: This is writing used in promotional marketing such as fliers and promotional brochures that would entice a person to purchase a certain product or service. Examples of technical writing can be found in each of these different types of technical writing.
Uses for Technical Writing
Examples of end-user documentation might include:
“Blackberry for Dummies” – that teaches you how to use your new cellular phone and that is written in order to cater to someone who has never before used a cell phone or who is not a cell phone expert A manual that comes with a computer
A manual that comes with a video game system, such as thePS3 users guide
Traditional Technical Writing
Examples of traditional technical writing might include:
A whitepaper published in an engineering journal about a new system that has been devised An article published in a law review that caters to lawyers
An article in a medical journal summarizing an experiment that has been conducted and written to a medical audience. For example, articles published in the New England Journal of Medicine would fall into this category
Technical Marketing Communication
These might include:
A promotional ad outlining why you would want to purchase a new computer and explaining the features of that computer A promotional ad explaining why you would want to purchase a new cell phone, outlining the phone’s features A promotional ad explaining why you would want to purchase a new mp3 player and outlining the phone’s features, such as an ad for the Creative Zen Mozaic Mp3 player
Successful Technical Writing
When carrying out a technical writing assignment, you must remember to follow what is known as the three ‘Cs’ and ask yourself the following questions:
Is it clear?
Is it concise?
Is it complete?
Because technical writing is so often aimed towards those who may be unfamiliar with technical jargon and terminology, it is important that a technical writer uses clear and unambiguous language in their assigned piece. If the writing is too full of technical language, the message may not come across as intended. If the information being written about is provided in a convoluted and round-about way, the message is likely to be lost entirely. Straight forward and to the point is always best. If a technical writer’s information is incomplete, it inhibits the audience’s understanding of the topic and can, in some cases such as instruction and safety manuals, prove dangerous. Above all, technical writing needs to be very clear and concise to be successful.
Examples of Technical Writing Assignments
Technical writing is writing that is done for the purpose of educating, informing or directing someone on how to do something. Technical writing is significantly different than other types of writing such as narrative, because technical writing is intended to impart to the reader some specific skill or ability. Technical writing isn’t for everyone. It is often very detail-oriented and usually involves writing within fields where some advanced knowledge is required. When given a technical writing assignment, it also must be approached in a certain way in order for you to be
Forms of Technical Writing
Technical writing assignments normally take one of three forms:
End user documentation
Traditional technical writing
Technological marketing communications
End User Documentation
Writing a manual that accompanies a cell phone
Writing a manual teaching home computer uses how to set up a basic home networking system
Writing a how-to guide for using laptops
Traditional Technical Writing
Writing an analysis of a legal case for other lawyers
Writing up a summary of a series of medical experiments to be published in a journal of medicine
Writing an article for a trade publication
Technological Marketing Communications
Writing a sales pitch to a new potential client about a new type of computer hardware or software Writing informative articles for the web that show businesses that using a particular IT consulting service can save them money
Types of Technical Writing Assignments
Technical writing is used in a large variety of fields such as engineering, computer hardware and software, chemistry, and biotechnology. You can also find everyday examples of technical writing in owner’s manuals, employee handbooks, and in articles on the web. Some examples of technical writing assignments include:
A technical writer may be assigned to compile information for a company or job training manual. In the manual, the writer may be required to outline:
Standard operating procedures
Duties required to be fulfilled by a given position
Training manuals and other company documents can usually be categorized as end-user documentation.
When a writer is asked to write an operations guide, they are expected to have a working knowledge of the topic or area about which they are writing. It is important that they keep in mind that the people who will be using their guide will likely be a beginner and will therefore need detailed and concise instructions for the subject that is being covered. This could refer to any of the following types of guides:
Computer software guides
Operations guides typically fall under the traditional technical writing category, but, in some cases, could also be considered end-user documentation.
A technical writer who writes promotional brochures and other technological marketing pieces will be required to not only inform a potential customer of the offer being made, but to entice them to want to avail of it through the use of key phrases and words.
Another type of technical writing is found in online articles. There is a wealth of information available on the Internet. Millions of people browse search engines and read through articles they find for instructions, guides, and to understand different things. Technical writing, in this case, could vary from articles on how to assemble a crib to articles with detailed medical advice or historical information. This area of technical writing can fall into any of the three categories of technical writing.
Finding Technical Writing Work
As you can see, there are many different types of technical writing assignments. If you are interested in becoming a technical writer, you should consider working on both your writing skills and brushing up on your knowledge in your particular field in order to find the best possible opportunities.
Technical Writing Examples
The field of technical writing offers a lucrative career opportunity for those who are skilled in communications. Individuals enter the profession from different backgrounds and for different reasons. Some have pursued a career in writing and found a knack for communicating complex material. Others have held technical positions and made the transition into writing specifically about their areas of expertise. What all of these professionals have in common is the ability to write about technical information in a way that their intended audience can understand and use easily. It’s a unique skill set, and one that you can learn to develop if you are considering entering the field. A good place to start is a brief online course introducing technical writing and covering the fundamentals of the discipline. If you would like to take a deeper dive, you can also find a comprehensive online course on technical writing and editing. To give you a picture of the kinds of materials technical writers typically produce, here are some examples and some specific considerations for each:
Many products require written explanations and instructions in order for users to understand and operate them effectively. In fact, these can be such an important element of the final package that they are often considered part of the product itself. After all, what good is a feature of a software program if you don’t know how to use it? And how do you compare that software next to one that does a better job explaining the available features? It is critical for a technical writer working in this area to write as clearly and concisely as possible, using layman’s terms and defining any required technical terminology. If you need some polish to write with a good, easily understandable style, you might benefit from a course in writing quality paragraphs and essays to get started. The output for a given product can take a variety of forms, including the following:
Often, a product will come packaged with hard-copy documentation explaining its features in detail. Increasingly, for complex products, such as software, these are becoming more rare. Instead of including in depth material, software will often include a slim guide to get users up an running. The more in depth material will then be left for third-party experts publishing on the subject or user help tools available either in the software or online.
Technical writing includes step-by-step assembly instructions, which need to be carefully crafted to ensure that the end-user can complete the steps safely and accurately.
As mentioned in reference to software, products sometimes include a brief introductory guide to get a user started on working with its features. These documents do not include comprehensive information covering all elements. Instead they focus on clear and concise directions for getting the user started. These are sometimes included in addition to a more comprehensive user manual, a practice commonly seen with cell phones and smart phones.
User help functions
Much of technical writing for end-user software documentation takes place electronically. Technical writers build interactive guides where users can look for information specifically related to a question they have about a product. This helps them troubleshoot as they encounter obstacles in using the software. It also gives them the option of reading through the guide for a more comprehensive understanding.
Again, often related to software products, and with certain kinds of hardware, third-party authors often write full length guides to help users thoroughly learn the ins and outs. If this is a goal for you as you set out into the technical writing field, you might get a headstart in a course on writing a how-to book.
Traditional technical writing
In the case of product documentation, the writing goal is most often to inform a non-expert audience. The dynamic is very different in traditional technical writing. In this situation, the technical writer is creating content for an audience of experts. Here are some examples of deliverables in this category:
Scientific and medical papers
Practicing research scientists and medical researchers often work with technical writers to complete write-ups on their studies, which will ultimately be published in journals. Other practitioners will review this information to understand the latest findings and procedures, so the material needs to reinforce the credibility of the research and accurately reflect the details of the work.
Reviews and reports
Outside of the scientific community, technical writers work in and number of fields to communicate between professionals. This can include, for instance, legal case reviews, technical diagrams and schematics, and sometimes correspondence related to technical material (briefings, memos, etc.)
Marketing content of a technical nature
While the field may sound as though its material is as objective as possible and strictly for informing audiences, technical writers also engage in persuasive content development, often working in connection with marketing and sales teams. To persuade, after all, content often needs to be precise and credible, so technical writing easily fits in. If you need to work on the persuasive elements of your writing, you can take an online course that will teach you to enhance your techniques in persuasion. Meanwhile, here are some examples of writing you might take on within this category:
A long-form marketing project, white papers are designed to thoroughly investigate a topic that presents a problem for a specific audience. These reports will recommend a solution that highlights a company’s products.
Technical writers are often involved in expounding on details of a specific account and how they successfully met a business goal or overcame a challenge working with a company’s product.
Often, technical writers are called on for product brochures or online descriptions that go in to a deeper level of detail about how a product functions.
Many business to business sales efforts involve a formal proposal process wherein the proposer must draw out plans and specifications for a solution in detail. Technical writers often work as part of a team to handle the more technical aspects of this writing. As you can see, the field of technical writing is broad and diverse. There are many opportunities within it for a writer who is good at working with complex information. Explore these examples and other options available, and find the area of technical writing that is best for you.
What is Literary Writing?
By John Oldcastle
The term ‘literary writing’ calls to mind works by writers such as Shakespeare, Milton, or Wordsworth; definitive examples of all that the term implies. We instinctively associate the term with characteristics such as artistic merit, creative genius, and the expression of mankind’s noblest qualities. In this essay I will explore some of the characteristics of this kind of writing. Literary works are primarily distinguishable from other pieces of writing by their creative, or artistic intent. A piece of literature differs from a specialised treatises on astronomy, political economy, philosophy, or even history, in part because it appeals, not to a particular class of readers only, but to men and women; and in part because, while the object of the treatise is simply to impart knowledge, one ideal end of the piece of literature, whether it also imparts knowledge or not, is to yield aesthetic satisfaction by the manner of which it handles its theme. 
The writer of this passage emphasises the distinction between writing of didactic purpose and literary writing which has that other, aesthetic, dimension. In fundamental terms literature is ‘an expression of life through the medium of language’ , but language used more profoundly than when used simply to convey information. The following two extracts, for example, both describing one partner’s response to marital problems, are different in both their form and their intent: Many critics date the crumbling of their marriage back to that unfortunate episode, but David was delighted when he heard that Lynne had produced a daughter from her marriage to an American doctor.
And Her writing hand stopped. She sat still for a moment; then she slowly turned in her chair and rested her elbow on its curved back. Her face, disfigured by her emotion, was not a pretty sight as she stared at my legs and said . .  The first piece, from a newspaper, gives a typical tabloid account of a broken marriage. It plainly states the position of the two parties involved, (but with an attitude akin to ‘gossip’). The tone of the second piece is less factual and more descriptive. Here the writer is sets out to depict a particular scene, that of a woman distressed by the discovery of some unsavoury information concerning her husband, and employs such devices as the use of emotive words, such as ‘disfigured’, the gradual increase of dramatic tension, ‘slowly turned in her chair’, and then in the last line a humorous deflation of this tension, ‘her face . . . was not a pretty sight’. The author shows a mixture of intentions here, the structure and the use of language showing a different approach and purpose to the first piece’s straightforward account of the everyday world. In contrast to such a plain factual account – Literature is a vital record of what men have seen in life; what they have experienced of it, what they have thought and felt about those aspects of it which have the most immediate and enduring interest for all of us. 
So literary writing, having creative and artistic intent, is more carefully structured and uses words for the rhetorical effect of their flow, their sound, and their emotive and descriptive qualities. Literary writers can also employ tone, rhyme, rhythm, irony, dialogue and its variations such as dialects and slang, and a host of other devices in the construction of a particular prose work, poem, or play. All fiction is a kind of magic and trickery, a confidence trick, trying to make people believe something is true that isn’t. And the novelist, in a particular, is trying to convince the reader that he is seeing society as a whole.  Literary writing is, in essence, a ‘response’, a subjective personal view which the writer expresses through his themes, ideas, thoughts, reminiscences, using his armoury of words to try to evoke, or provoke, a response in his reader. . . . it is not only a question of the artist looking into himself but also the of his looking into others with the experience he has of himself. He writes with sympathy because he feels that the other man is like him.  In Welsh Hill Country, R. S. Thomas conveys his response to a landscape:
Too far for you to see
The fluke and the foot-rot and the fat maggot
Gnawing the skin from the small bones,
The sheep are grazing at Bwlch-y-Fedwen,
Arranged romantically in the usual manner
On a bleak background of bald stone. 
Here the powerful evocation of desolation, of the stark brutality, even indifference, of the countryside is captured by Thomas through a pointed use of language which also conveys his grim mood. In contrast, Keat’s To Autumn conveys a soft, sensuous depiction of this season which captured his imagination: Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run; 
Both these extracts show a creative, imaginative response to a particular scene, and show contrasting ways in which a poet can use diction to capture his mood and provoke a reaction in the reader. Devices such as rhyme, rhythm, alliteration, and assonance combine to form a structure of mood, a structure recognisably literary. . . . apart from the precise mixture of certainty and hesitation in the poet’s mind, one of the sovereign gestures of art is to make the ideal real, and to project a dim impersonal awareness onto a structure of definite invention.  Literature is a process of communication, it ‘helps us to understand life’.  Perhaps we should also consider the motivation of the writer as a factor which distinguishes literary from other forms of writing. The writer’s motivation is the energy that pulls together the strands of his creativity in the shaping of the finished work.
Ernest Hemingway gives his reasons for writing:
From things that had happened and from things as they exist and from all things that you know and all those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality. That is why you write and for no other reason that you know of.  Georges Simenon puts forward the idea of therapeutic value, a search for self: I think that if a man has the urge to be an artist, it is because he needs to find himself.
Every writer has to find himself through his characters, through all his writing.  Philip Larkin gives his reasons for writing poems as a need ‘to preserve things I have seen/thought/felt (if I may so indicate a composite and complex experience) both for myself and for others’. Here, in The Whitsun Weddings, his motive was to capture his response to a view seen from a train: As if out on the end of an event
To something that survived it. Struck, I leant
More promptly out next time, more curiously,
And saw it all again in different terms:
The fathers with broad belts under their suits
And seamy foreheads; mothers loud and fat;
An uncle shouting smut; and then the perms, 
The main impetus behind Edward Thomas’s No One So Much as You, is to describe his experience of love:
No one so much as you
Loves this my clay,
Or would lament as you
Its dying day 
While the motive behind Andrew Young’s, On the Prospect of Death, is self-evident.
If it should come to this
You cannot wake me with a kiss
Think I but sleep too late
Or once again keep a cold angry state 
Personal motivation is an essential characteristic of literary writing. It is the engine behind creativity, and the last two extracts provide examples of some of the great themes which occur again and again, not only in literary writing, but in all the arts; love, death, war, and peace. Such themes, it seems, provide perennial inspiration for artists. So perhaps an inventory of literary writers’ motives should include the overflowing of their passions, their desire for self-expression, an abiding fascination with humanity in all its variety, the need to come to grips with relationships as they really are in the world as it really is, the striving after an ideal world which can exist only in the imagination, and, perhaps at the heart of it all, the need to form, shape, things of beauty. The artist needs to resolve conflicts within himself, to reach an understanding, to search for some credible meaning of to life, to death, to everything. He is always reaching, fumbling toward some sort of truth; an artistic creative truth, a truth that resides in the individual artist and needs to be grasped, made real, made understandable. Perhaps in some cases the artist’s motivation could be seen as a need to create other worlds, in the way that Milton and Tolkien created other worlds, in order that they can project real conflicts onto another plane.
The many different genres of the novel constitute a particular challenge to the concept of ‘literary writing’. Detective novels, and science fiction novels, for example, are creative, imaginative, depictions of life. We might question their seriousness as literature, or whether they can achieve the high ideals of art, but then we might equally well question the meaning of ‘seriousness’, and ‘the high ideals of art’. Popular novels may not deal with life’s great conflicts, or search for truth and beauty, and they may deal with the seamier side of life, or escape into the fantastic, but can they still be considered ‘literature’? Do they still make an important contribution to our understanding of the world, as ‘real’ literature does? Obviously ‘literary’ works such as Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Proust’s Remembrance of Things Pasttake as a nucleus an event, an aspect of life and construct a world around that core. They are works about real people, engaged in the real business of living. They convey knowledge, understanding, experience and are hence considered important. Yet they have in common with the detective and science fiction novel that they are books, consisting of words that have been used to express something, words that may or may not be read, and may or may not succeed in conveying an understanding of the world they depict. In my view it comes down to subjective value judgements.
I believe literature is a ‘broad church’ which ought to be able to deal with any subject, and that ultimately it is individual readers, or readers en masse, who decide on the value of any particular work and on whether or not it deserves a place in the annals of literary history. Writers aim to show us ‘the world’, but no single writer can do this, and ‘literature’ should encompass numerous different kinds of writer because each is trying to show us something which cannot be shown as a whole. Each, whether a Tolstoy or a Raymond Chandler, can only give us his own small fragment of understanding. Ultimately it is those works which endure that should be considered ‘literature’, those which have succeeded in holding firm a fragment of life, to be seen, to be read, to be understood. Perhaps we should let a writer have the last word on summing up the writers’ art: The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed, so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.
Since man is mortal, the only immortality possible for him is to leave something behind him that is immortal since it will always move. This is the artist’s way of scribbling ‘Kilroy was here’ on the wall of the final and irrevocable oblivion through which he must someday pass.  In conclusion, literary writing does embody certain distinguishing characteristics. It is a self-conscious, imaginative mode of writing which uses words not just to convey information, but as an art form. Ultimately it is a response to life. Personally, passages of outstanding literary writing such as the following, convince me that words are the highest form of expression available to mankind:
CLAUDIO: Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot;
This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
To bathe in fiery floods or to reside
In thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice;
To be imprisons’ in the viewless winds,
And blown with restless violence round about
The pendent world.
Example Literary Analysis
Society Suppresses Mankind’s Evil Nature
The idea that mankind is inherently evil and needs society to become good is a prominent theme throughout William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies. Three of the characters that best exemplify this theme are Jack, Roger, and Ralph. Jack starts out good, but as his freedom from society grows, he becomes more and more evil. Roger, although not perfect at the beginning, becomes increasingly violent, as he puts society’s beliefs and morals out of his mind. Ralph remains good throughout the whole book but only by holding on to society and the one thing that can get him back, the signal fire. By having Jack and Roger, who have chosen to disregard the ways of society, become far more violent and evil, and by having Ralph, who still has a strong connection to society, remain good throughout the novel, Golding expresses that man is born evil and needs society to make him good.Jack demonstrates that he is truly evil many times throughout the book as his connection to society becomes weaker. When Jack and the rest of the boys first arrive on the island, they are mostly good because the expectations of society are still very fresh in their minds.
They elect Ralph as chief, and Jack does not complain too much because he assumes that some adult would get mad at him for doing so, even though there are none on the island. In other words, Jack is used to having adults around who would scold him for arguing, so he lets it slide. As the days go by, Jack’s realization grows that there is no one who can tell him what to do. When this idea fully hits Jack, he questions Ralph’s right to lead by saying, “He isn’t a proper chief… He’s a coward himself” (126). Jack feels very powerful because of this realization that no one can tell him what to do, and as a result, accuses Ralph of being a bad leader and then leaves the group. Jack goes and lives on the other side of the island with some of his hunters where he maliciously kills pigs all the time. He understands no one can tell him right from wrong and so he creates a savage tribe, which almost all of the boys join. Jack is chief and is in total control of the tribe. He hosts terrifying feasts in which they eat pig, that they mercilessly killed, and chants things such as “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!” (182), as they reenact the killing of the pig, pretending to kill one another.
The fact that no one challenges Jack and his tribe’s horrible ways fuels Jack to do even more to show his power. By the end of the book Jack is at his most evil state when he orders his tribe to kill Ralph without a second thought. The twins, Sam and Eric, who were forced to become one of Jack’s savages, describe what Jack said to the tribe to Ralph: “And Ralph, Jack, the chief, says it will be dangerous ––– and we’ve got to be careful and throw our spears like at a pig” (188-189). Jack orders the tribe to kill Ralph, pretending that Ralph is a threat so that the tribe can justify its actions. By having Jack say that the tribe has to “throw our spears like at a pig”, Golding illustrates, that Jack is dehumanizing Ralph, so that the tribe will not be hesitant to kill Ralph. Jack starts out as any other kid on the island, happy, enthusiastic, and excited for the adventure that awaits them. However, Jack is one of the first kids to stop following society’s morals and standards, and as a result, thinks that he can do whatever he wants, even if it is obviously wrong.
Because Jack stops following society’s ways, Golding implies that he reverts back to what he was born as, an evil human being.Because Roger no longer has society to suppress his evil nature, he turns extremely violent on the island. Initially, Roger’s life is still heavily influenced by society, and therefore he does not do anything morally wrong. Roger starts to feel a bit more powerful, as his connection to society weakens, but it is still strong enough to keep him from doing anything that harms others. Roger, having nothing better to do, “gathered a handful of stones and began to throw them” (62) at a younger kid named Henry. Roger does not aim to hit him, however, because “there was a space around Henry, perhaps six yards in diameter, into which he dare not throw. Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life” (62). The phrase “the taboo of the old life” is referring to the taboo established by society that one can not harm another for no good reason. Although Roger understands that he is free from society, he cannot throw to hit Henry because the society, and therefore the taboo, is still a part of him, even if he does not realize it.
If he were to hit Henry with a rock, no one would be there to scold him, but because society is so fresh in his mind, Roger feels as if he would get in trouble and, therefore, purposely misses. Roger becomes progressively violent and evil, as he gives up on society, and when he joins Jack’s tribe, he loses what little morality he has left. When Ralph, Piggy, and the twins come to the tribe to demand Piggy’s specs back, Roger starts “throwing stones” (180) and “dropping them” (180), with “his one hand still on the lever” (180). Roger is contemplating whether or not to pull a lever that would allow a boulder to roll down the hill and, most likely, kill them. Roger is deciding if he should let them live or if he should release the boulder, and take their lives. In the end, Roger, bearing none of society’s morals or beliefs anymore, “leaned all his weight on the lever” (180), releasing the boulder and killing Piggy. Because no one punishes Roger, he continues being a horrible, violent human being and becomes the tribe’s torturer.
Through losing his connection to society over the course of the novel, and as a result, becoming more and more evil, Roger illustrates how society can contain a person’s evil inner nature.Ralph remains good throughout the novel by using the signal fire as a strong link between him and society and, therefore, a link to Ralph’s goodness. Ralph is elected as chief and immediately starts to set some ground rules and stresses how important it is to get off the island by saying, “We can help them find us … We must make a fire” (38). Ralph, a smart leader, knows that the most important thing is to get rescued from the island, and that a signal fire will help them achieve that goal. Later on in the book, when Jack starts to turn evil and is questioning Ralph’s leadership, Ralph continues to stand by his morals and beliefs that he still retains from society.
Ralph constantly is using the signal fire and the idea of getting rescued as an argument against becoming a savage group of people. One example is when they believe that the beast is on top of the mountain and Jack foolishly says that he is going to go and kill it, but Ralph realizes that this is just distracting them from getting rescued and states, “Hasn’t anyone got any sense? We’ve got to relight that fire. You never thought of that, Jack, did you? Or don’t any of you want to be rescued?” (102). Ralph is kept moral and fair by continually bringing up the topic of the signal fire and being rescued. When Jack leaves the tribe with most of the others, Ralph, wondering how they are going to keep the fire going, ponders out loud, “We can’t keep the fire going. And they don’t care. And what’s more … I don’t sometimes. Suppose I got like the others ––– not caring. What’ud become of us?” (139). Ralph realizes that if he gives up on the fire, like Jack and his tribe did, then he would be no better than them, evil and violent. Ralph, although it is extremely hard, maintains his connection to society and perseveres through the difficult times. Ralph, for the entire length of the book, upholds society’s values and, as a result, never falters from being good.Golding uses the characters in the novel Lord of the Flies to conclude that if not countered by the ways of society, the true evil nature of man will reveal itself. Jack and Roger are among the first to realize that they are free of society, and in turn, they turn evil. Ralph holds on to society and its morals, allowing him to continue being good.
Jack and Roger are used to demonstrate that without society man will revert back to its evil nature, and Ralph is used to illustrate that as long as man is still connected with society, he will remain a good human being. The concept that mankind’s innate dispositions are evil and that it needs society to be good is a bit exaggerated in the novel, considering that two boys were murdered and most of the boys turned very sadistic. However, there are still many examples of this theme in the real world, ranging in severity. The most explicit example is law enforcement, which will punish a criminal, by prison or other means, if they do anything illegal or against the formal rules of society. Some people will hurt, steal, and even kill for certain reasons because they have some evil tendencies, but law enforcement and society’s rules keeps many people from doing so because they know the consequences.
A more basic example of this idea that society keeps people good, is a person’s own life. A person grows up with friends and family who have a certain set of morals and standards that greatly impact one’s decisions. From a young age, a child is taught not to tease, harm, or steal from other people by his family and friends. A young child, until about age four, will not listen to the adults but instead will do whatever they want to do, even if it is evil, because the child has not had enough time to understand what is acceptable in society. Once the child starts to grasp the idea of society’s expectations, through maturity and discipline, the child can then act appropriately in society and, consequently, be a good human being. As long as the child and people in general, are influenced by society, their evil inner nature will not be revealed.
5 New Year’s Resolutions for Writers
By: Rachel Sheller | January 1, 2013
A new year, a new writerly you. New Year’s Day is a time for reflecting on the past year while thinking about the goals, wishes, and hopes for the new year ahead. What does this mean for your writing goals? Maybe 2013 is the year you finish your novel. Maybe it’s the year you commit to a sustainable writing habit. Or maybe it’s the year you get published. To start the New Year right, here are five resolutions you can make to improve your writing, focus yourself, and achieve your publishing goals. Pick one to start, or dive in with all five. The result will be the best writing year you’ve had yet.
1. I resolve to … make time for writing.
Writers hear this all the time: If you want results, you have to apply butt to chair and just … write. But it isn’t that simple, is it? Most of us have jobs, kids, chores, and other outside interests that take away from our writing time, and there are only 24 hours in the day. And most of us also need to sleep. But there’s always time to write. Excuses are easy to make (and there are many responsibilities to which we must attend) but most, if not all of us, have at least one hour of quiet time a day to devote to our writing. Think about it this way: If you’re able to write even 500 words in an hour, and you write for one hour a day, you’ll have written about 15,000 words in a month. And even if only 50% of those words are usable, if you keep up the habit for a year, you’ll have written 90,000 words. And that, my friend, is a novel. And don’t think that writing time means just typing words–any words–into a blank Word document. Outlining, research, and writing exercises are also great ways to spend your writing time, because they are moving you toward your writing goals.
2. I resolve to … embrace my personal writing style.
We’ve heard the debate for years. It’s probably spanned millenia. The debate to which I refer, is, of course, that of outliners vs. “pantsers.” Whether you consider yourself an Outliner or a Pantser (non-outliner) doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you fully embrace your method of writing. There is merit to both styles, and there are pitfalls, too. Knowing the pros and cons of both camps of thought will aid your writing. (And if you haven’t decided whether you’re more of a planner or a non-planner, I encourage you to try both methods and see which one you prefer.) Outliners are often more organized, but their rigid structures sometimes get in the way of lightning rod flashes of creativity. Their works often need less major editing or structural work (but not always!) and they tend to “know where they’re going” from the first page to the last.
Pantsers are much freer in their writing methodology, preferring to “make it up as they go” rather than adhere to a strict outline that they write ahead of time. They often find surprises as they write, and they also tend to feel less inclined to “stick to a plan” … because they don’t necessarily have one. Their works sometimes suffer structurally, or meander in places where they didn’t know how to further the plot, but they are also often incredibly innovative and creative. I’ll say it again: There is nothing wrong with being either a Pantser or an Outliner. Both will get the job done. Wherever you fall in the spectrum, be aware of both the advantages and disadvantages of your method, and work accordingly.
3. I resolve to … self-edit as I write.
Don’t confuse self-editing with that niggling voice of doubt in your head that screams What the heck are you doing?! There’s no feasible way that will work! Do yourself a favor and silence that voice right now. Self-editing is different. It’s a method of revising as you write in order to produce a cleaner manuscript that requires less revision on the back end. It prevents larger structural issues later on, as well as issues of characterization, plot, and pacing. While it does slow down your writing output, the result is a better and clearer first draft that will have fewer problems to solve during revision. While you can learn bits and pieces about self-editing on this site (such as this post on 4 great ways to revise as you write), no one instructs this method better and more fully than James Scott Bell. If you’re resolving to self-edit more efficiently in 2013, Revision and Self-Editing for Publication, 2nd Edition has all you need to know about the self-editing process.
4. I resolve to …step outside my comfort zone.
Some of us are fiction writers and aspiring novelists. Some of us are memoirists. Some of us are freelancers. Some of us are a combination of all of these, in varying degrees. But all of us have a comfort zone, and if we stay within it too long, we risk stagnation. So resolve to step outside of your comfort zone. Experiment with styles and voices that you’re not used to. Emulate authors that you don’t normally read. Read books that you wouldn’t normally pick up off the shelf. If you’re strictly a fiction writer, branch out into the world of freelance articles, where science and special interest articles provide great fodder for new stories. Or, if you’re a nonfiction writer, study plot, structure, voice, and pacing, all of which will help you write tightly wound, concise pieces with distinct tones. My point is that we all get stuck in a rut from time to time. Actively finding ways to get unstuck is the mark of a great writer.
5. I resolve to … call myself a writer.
This may be the most important resolution you make for 2013. You may consider yourself a writer; you may not. You may think you just dabble in this stuff, and that it may work out for you in the end, but maybe not. But writing isn’t a short journey, at least not for most of us. It’s a lifetime of work. It’s often hinged on the culmination of sweat, blood, and tears. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to reap rewards, and it’s a bit of a cruel mistress, too. Start calling yourself a writer. Then ask yourself why.
Acknowledging your writerly status is one thing; living it is another. One of my favorite musings on why we choose to be writers comes from Larry Brooks, in his book Story Engineering. I encourage you to print it out, tape it into your writing journal, and flip to it from time to time, especially when you’re feeling discouraged. Remind yourself why you’re a writer, and why you call yourself one. It will be a tremendous help in the 365 days ahead, and beyond. We are lucky. Very lucky. We are writers.
Sometimes that may seem more curse than blessing, and others may not regard what we do with any more esteem or respect than mowing a lawn. To an outsider this can appear to be a hobby, or maybe a dream that eludes most. But if that’s how they view you, they aren’t paying enough attention. If you are a writer–and you are if you actually write–you are already living the dream. Because the primary reward of writing comes from within, and you don’t need to get published or sell your screenplay to access it. …Whatever we write, we are reaching out. We are declaring that we are not alone on this planet, and that we have something to share, something to say. Our writing survives us, even if nobody ever reads a word of it. Because we have given back, we have reflected our truth. We have mattered.