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Technically Persuasive. Blending technical writing and research into persuasive descriptions. Origins and Implications. Some of the most effective non-fiction writing occurs when authors are able to blend technical information with narratives

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technically persuasive

Technically Persuasive

Blending technical writing and research into persuasive descriptions

origins and implications
Origins and Implications
  • Some of the most effective non-fiction writing occurs when authors are able to blend technical information with narratives
  • Narratives make information packageable, relatable, and memorable
  • Technical description makes narrative credible, informative, and actionable
  • Older theories of technical writing positioned it as arhetorical
    • Void of persuasion
  • Today we understand objectivity as an ideal, not a reality
    • All technical writing becomes rhetorically driven
tips and suggestions
Tips and Suggestions
  • Here are some moves writers can make to bring technical writing into a persuasive description or narrative
    • Think about how not whether to explain a technical process
    • Use explanatory strategies
      • Use analogies and metaphors
      • Back into explanations rather than beginning with them
      • Select critical features of a process, and set aside less critical
    • Use non-examples to guide understanding
    • Stay attuned to reader beliefs and values
1 think about how not whether to explain processes
1. Think about how not whether to explain processes
  • Your goal as a writer should always be to educate the reader in some way
  • Avoiding processes explanations for clarity is dodging an important writing responsibility
  • It may be tempting to ignore complex ideas, but finding ways to explain complex ideas will help persuade the reader in the long run
  • Readers feel allied to those they learn from
  • Readers like to feel they have joined an exclusive conversation
2 use explanatory strategies
2. Use explanatory strategies
  • Use active voice verbs
    • The subject is emphasized as performing an action
    • (Passive) The fringed orchid population collapsed due to the draining of wetlands
    • (Active) Human draining of wetlands led to the collapse of the fringed orchid population

Analogies and metaphors

    • Metaphors package what is difficult to understand by relating to something easier to understand
    • Global climate change is not a matter of temperature, but a matter of altering a complex global climate system.
    • Question: what is a complex system readers might understand
      • Economies?
      • Sports teams?
    • Just like we can’t correct economic woes by adding more money to the system, global climate change cannot be addressed by observing historic temperature patterns.
    • Addressing global climate change only through temperature is like addressing an 0-16 football team by getting rid of the kicker.

Backing into an explanation (explaining before labeling)

    • Labels are used by experts to conceal processes, and thus expedite complicated discussions
    • Using labels with readers who don’t know these processes is ineffective
    • Beginning with process explanations can help alleviate this problem
    • Caron’s description of bioaccumulation

Select Critical features of a process and be willing to set aside others to avoid overwhelming the reader

    • Too much off a process can be overwhelming, so select the most important/critical
    • What’s critical to understanding bioaccumulation?
      • Pollutant accumulation in fat cells
      • Pollutant persistence/longevity
      • Predation cycles and quantities
        • i.e. A single fish might not contain high quantities, but an Eagle might eat 2-3 fish/day
    • What’s less critical
      • Pollutant solubility/polarity
      • Structure and position of Cl on benzene rings
      • Chemical explanation of persistence of Cl
3 use non examples
3. Use non-examples
  • Non-examples can be more helpful than examples
    • Non-examples can reorient readers from conclusions that might be mislead.
    • Example: In explaining the concept of groundwater, readers might be attempted to associate this with rivers, lakes, streams, etc. Things that are familiar.
    • A non-example might challenge this:
      • While the term groundwater might suggest a large moving body of water, like a lake or a stream below beds of rocks, this view would be an inaccurate one. Instead, groundwater is a slow moving area of cracked and crevassed rocks that is saturated by slowly moving water.
4 be aware of read values and beliefs
4. Be aware of read values and beliefs
  • Think back to project number one
  • What are the values and beliefs that need to be considered in communicating this idea?
  • How can my communication fit into the framework of these values and beliefs?
  • Example:
    • How can an argument for strong environmental policies fit into the ideology of Rick Santorum?
    • Ideology = Earth’s resources are made available explicitly for the human. Science and technology help develop ways to exploit these resources.
example technical descriptions
Example Technical Descriptions