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Tech Writer to Hollywood Writer: A Social Network Story

6th April 2012 Posted in Blog, Social Media, Technical Writers 0 Comments

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Once upon a time, James Erwin was writing software manuals in Des Moines, Iowa. An everyday technical writer, he spent his days trying to ensure that information could be easily used and digested by the reader. Until something happened. And that ‘something’ was social networking.

As James Erwin was commenting about a movie online, his comments received so many responses that he got noticed online. He was offered a job writing a screenplay and had to quit his technical writing job. So, the question becomes, can technical writing skills help to foster a career in another field of writing – like script writing?

Technical Writing Parallels to Script Writing

While the answer seems clear from this case history, let’s look at how user documentation and the average script might relate to each other.

  • Follows an outline
  • Keeps the audience in mind
  • Remembers past ‘story’ details
  • Provides something to the user – i.e. entertainment, information, etc.

And a script also has numerous formatting issues to which it needs to adhere, depending on the eventual outlet and reader. Technical writing documentation and software manuals also have a structure to which they adhere, helping to create a recognizable format into which the reader can disappear and focus on the information, rather than what it looks like.

Does this mean you might lose your technical writer to Hollywood? Probably not, but you might also want to think about how another type of writer can still fill your tech writing needs.

What are your thoughts on social media and the parallels between script writing, other types of writing and technical writing? We’d love to have your comments.

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