Published on October 25th, 2006 | by Rahel Bailie0
Genre analysis and the technical communicator
Genre analysis isn’t really discussed much in technical communication circles, but an understanding of this concept can be quite helpful to understanding structured writing to content management. As I wrote the title to this article, I thought it sounded like the name of a movie or a book and wondered how I could make a connection between structured writing and some of the more noteworthy films of various genres: Smokey and the Bandit? Anna and the King? Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Beauty and the Beast? Or more like Monty Python and the Holy Grail? And what does this all have to do with content management?
When we think of entertainment genres, we can pick out the elements and structure of content relatively easily. For example, we know that Western movie has a hero with a white hat, a villain with a black hat, a love interest for the hero, a saloon, a gun, and a horse. We know that there will be a shoot-out, where the villain dies, and the hero wins and gets the girl. A romantic comedy has a socially awkward protagonist, the love interest, a “straight man” who feeds lines to the protaganist, a situation which prevents the protagonist from becoming involved with the love interest, and a “grand gesture” situation that brings them together. But what about documentation genres? What are they and how do we work with them?
Next time: technical communication genres I’ve known and loved