Author Archives: Sarah Maddox

What’s exercising your brain at the moment?

What are you thinking about at the moment? My recent musings are on the usefulness of technical communication skills to other people. By that I mean that people other than technical writers would benefit from learning core technical communication skills.

For example, organising information into chunks is a useful skill for all sorts of situations, including:

  • Compiling your resumĂ©.
  • Writing an executive overview of your project.
  • Asking people to take action on something, based on your email message or a post to a social group.

Clarity and direct language are useful in all the above situations, and also in the following:

  • Putting your point of view in a fast-moving debate, or even in an argument at a dinner table. 😉
  • Communicating with people who speak your language at only a basic or intermediate level.

Short sentences and indeed short docs are useful when:

  • You or your readers are in a hurry. I guess that includes most situations these days!
  • Your words need to fit into a small space, such as a poster on a door, or a book review, or a Facebook page.

And so on.

Do you have any rambling thoughts to share, tech comm wise? (I’m enjoying the ambiguity of the last part of the previous sentence.)

A book review of Ready Player One

Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book. The characters are engaging, despite spending most of their time in virtual reality. The plot is cleverly woven into both the recent future and the recent past. It’s set a couple of decades into the future, but the characters are immersed in the culture of the 1980s within their virtual reality world. The language is well composed. All in all, a good, fast read.

Visit me on Goodreads

Chapter 2 of the adventures of Trilby Trench

Have things improved, or is Trilby Trench still in a pickle? Read A Word If You Please, chapter 2 to find out!

A Word If You Please is the first book in an online fiction series about Trilby Trench, tech writer and action hero. Don’t worry if you missed chapter 1 – you can still read it and get to know Trilby Trench. See the about page on her site. You can also subscribe to updates on the site, to make sure you don’t miss out again. 🙂

Announcing Trilby Trench, tech writer and adventurer

Let me introduce you to Trilby Trench, technical writer.

In her own words:

I’m Trilby Trench.
As in the hat, the coat.

The role of a technical writer is more exciting than you’d think. Sometimes things get physical. Trilby has always been lucky in a fight. Or perhaps it’s skill rather than luck. As every technical writer knows, you need to do something yourself before you can write the manual. Trilby has written a variety of manuals.

The first account of the Trilby Trench adventures is out! Try A Word If You Please.

If you like, you can subscribe to the Trilby Trench site, to receive an email when the next chapter is available. I’d love to know what you think about Trilby Trench and her friends. Share your thoughts by commenting on the Trilby Trench blog or here on this blog.  I’ll be adding chapters regularly, and working on the site’s appearance.

STC Summit 2017 wrapup

This week I attended STC Summit 2017, the annual conference of the Society for Technical Communication. I’ve written summaries of the sessions I attended. This post is a wrapup of the conference as a whole, with links to my session summaries.

A huge thanks to the STC Summit committee, who’ve put together a fantastic conference this year. It’s been a few years since I was last able to attend a Summit (the last time was in 2014) and it was an absolute pleasure to be here again. I’ve met many friends, made new acquaintances, and learned what people are doing in tech comm.

There were approximately 600 attendees at STC Summit this year. The venue was the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, MD, close to Washington, DC. The conference theme was:

Gain the Edge to Get Results

Session summaries

There were approximately 85 sessions, with 5 to 8 sessions running concurrently in each time slot, over the course of 2 and a half days.

I wrote notes on most of the sessions I attended:

Other blogs

Kevin Cuddihy has posted session summaries on the STC Notebook. For example, here’s the post for Tuesday morning, which includes a writeup of my session. Thanks Kevin!

Here’s a good summary of the STC Summit from STC San Diego.

Social event: dine around

On Monday evening we gathered in groups and went to a few of the restaurants in the area. I chose Rosa Mexicana, where the food was good, the decor lovely, and the company outstanding.

The venue and surrounds

For a touch of local colour, take a look at my bookmark’s latest blog post about Georgetown, Washington, DC.

Here’s a view from inside the atrium of the Gaylord National Resort:

A view from the gardens:

The Potomac River at sunset, just a block away from the hotel:

It’s a wrap!

I’ve loved meeting everyone and attending all those interesting, entertaining sessions. Thanks so much to all the organisers, speakers, and attendees!

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