Can a technical writer write fiction?

Can technical writers do other types of writing, in particular fiction? Oh yes indeed! I’ve just finished reading Dave Gash’s new science fiction novel, The ELI Event. It’s a lot of fun.

I fell in love with the characters, including the non-human ones. I chewed my nails in the tense moments, cried and laughed in the good moments, gritted my teeth when things went wrong. When it was all over I felt great satisfaction at the way things turned out, coupled with that sweet sorrow you get when you finish a good book.

The ELI Event

The ELI Event

Dave is a friend of mine. I met him at a technical communication conference two years ago, and we’ve bumped into each other at a couple of conferences since. He’s great. His other big talent is compiling and hosting geek trivia quizzes. 😉

At first I was worried that knowing Dave would spoil my experience of the book. Would I hear his voice speaking through the text, preventing that essential suspension of disbelief that good sci fi demands and facilitates? Even worse, would I feel obliged to enjoy the book? The answer is “No” on all counts. The book grabbed me from page 2 and pushed me through all the way to the end.

Why page 2? Well, it took me most of page 1 to forget my worries about knowing the author. I’m sure the book will grab you from page 1!

Here’s a challenge 😉

Can you find anything in The ELI Event to indicate that a technical writer wrote it?

Details of the book

Dave Gash provides the book in paperback and in Adobe ePub format. You can order it from his website: The ELI Event

Title: The ELI Event
Author: Dave Gash
Publisher: Dave Gash with Xlibris.

About Sarah Maddox

Technical writer, author and blogger in Sydney

Posted on 26 March 2011, in technical writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I hope tech writers can write fiction, too. I have plenty of ideas. The problem is, time.

    • Hallo Craig

      Yes, time is a problem! And energy. I take my hat off to the people who put all their skill and passion into their day job, and then do it all over again in the after-hours too.

      Thinking about it, at the moment I spend a lot of time blogging, both on this tech writing blog and on my other blog, The Travelling Worm. If I put all that time into writing a book, I could do it.

      But, there’s a difference. Each blog post is a unit, whereas each chapter in a book is part of a bigger whole. It demands a much more sustained and consistent effort.

      I bet Dave could tell us some stories about how he got the book written!


  2. Great book. I was among the first to read it. Also being a fiction writer, I found it very entertaining. But Dave has one up on me…I never have nor could I begin to do any technical writing. Good job, Dave.

    • Hallo Bill

      It’s great to have another writer drop by. I love your website and your entertaining titles:

      • The Condiment Killer
      • Eat My Shorts
      • And more

      That’s a very cool set of HTML and JavaScript that you’ve used to create the page-turning image. Is it part of the TDS services?

      Cheers, Sarah

  3. Keith Soltys

    I know three technical writers in the Toronto area who are published science fiction authors. So it’t not that uncommon. And of course, there’s Ted Chiang, who has won a Hugo or Nebula award for almost every story he’s published.

    • Hallo Keith 🙂

      Awesome, I hadn’t heard of Ted Chiang until I saw your comment. I’ve just read a bit about him. Love this quotation: “It’s too difficult for me to do technical writing at the same time as fiction writing – they draw on the same parts of my brain.”

      Hmm, reading the rest of your comment too: I wonder if science fiction in particular is the genre of choice, for technical writers who also do fiction?


  4. The only major adjustment that a technical writer needs to make while writing fiction is “compromise with the language semantics”. In fiction, you can have two words sentence, or even one word sentence. All other qualities such as planning structure (TOC or plot/sub-plots), review/editing, patience, and writing skills, are common. Being a published author of a fiction, I did not need to make any major adjustment while writing the book.

  5. Creative or fiction writing is a lot of what-ifs, no doubt about it. If you’ve been in the Tech Writer business even a couple of years, you’ve interviewed lots of people, asked a lot of questions and distilled a lot of knowledge.

  6. I’m happy to have found this thread. I’ve been a technical writer for 10 years and have recently started writing fiction. I had a writing instructor tell me I would have a hard time because of my tech writing background and it really took the wind out of sails.

  7. Writers’ perceptions and imagination are limitless, surely a technical writer can also write fiction. I am pretty sure and 100% believed. Thanks

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