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Strip Poem (Technical Writing Exercise)

Business Writing Exercise

Business Writing Exercise

Your assignment this week is to create a strip poem. And no, it’s not as naughty as it sounds.

Later this week, I’m going to spend a lot of time talking to the creative writers about poetry, and on Friday they’ll get to write sonnets. I wouldn’t expect sonnets out of my technical writers, but I still recommend that you take the time to read Thursday’s article, when it comes around. Poetry is language distilled, and technical writing is all about efficiency, brevity, and impact. The approaches are different, but the destination is the same.

So this week I want you to be poetic, too. We talked last week about the importance of punctuation — the meaning conveyed by dots and dashes — and now’s your chance to get your hands dirty and see how accurate that post really was. You’ll get to practice recognizing the impact of punctuation (and whitespace, and document design).

How? Find a suitable document, strip out the formatting and punctuation (or rearrange it to fit your needs),  and make a poem out of something entirely prosaic. Maybe you’ll find inspiration in a random Google search, or in the menu at the Chinese place you visited for lunch. Maybe you’ll find it in the subject lines in your email inbox, or the Tweets your friends have published. Whatever your source, turn it into a poem. Express your creativity, without writing a word.

As a special treat, here’s mine:

Unstressed Syllables, by Aaron Pogue

Acronyms, active and passive,
Voice-blogging cards on the table.

Character chronology, conflict resolution.
Cycle creative writing, Dean Koontz!
Document metadata! Document structure!
Document types!

Drafts, dreaming, editing feedback….
Filling in the blanks.

Grammar rules, Marble Statue. Mightier than the Sword.

NaNoWriMo: narrative and exposition.
Negotiating a connection.
Organization methods plot poetry.

Point of view practice:





Robert Jordan.

Stack-and-smash storytelling teaching Technical Writing.
The blank page. The end.

The human condition.

Tips and tricks, Unstressed Syllables.
WILAWriTWe (working title).
Worldbuilding writing exercise….

2 Responses to “Strip Poem (Technical Writing Exercise)”

  1. Courtney Cantrell says:

    As I type this, your poem is even with the list of tags in the sidebar. That will go away as soon as the next post appears in the blog…but for now, it’s a neat effect.

    And in other news, I heart this idea mightily. I’m gonna do it. Maybe even with that poem I mentioned to you, the one that’s “due” this Thursday. Seems appropriate somehow. :o)

  2. Aaron Pogue says:

    I think that’s a great idea, Courtney! Every time I work on one of these exercises, I think of those Creative Writing classes and try to do half as well as she did. It would be a fitting tribute.

    And, for what it’s worth, when I wrote that poem it did include every single one of my tags, in order. It wasn’t a 1:1 match by the time it went live, but I liked what I’d come up with enough that I left it intact.

    That’s the kind of problem you get from writing it early: getting to choose which version you like better, and going with that one. It’s a pretty nice sort of problem to have.