For whom your book tolls


It’s November! Have you chosen a writing project for the month?

Each year I like to piggy-back on NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) with a new writing project. When I was an editor at the Prags I launched our own PragProWriMo so folks could play along while creating non-fiction.

Take today and figure out what you’re going to write this month. Last year I wrote the first book in my Editors Cut series.

I began with the question: how would I write a tech book differently if it’s never going to be printed. If this book is only going to be viewed on, say, an iPad — what changes?

First, the way I present code has to be different. Paging back and forth in a physical book to read parts of a long code listing is difficult. On an ebook it’s just annoying. So I experimented with different animations for code so that you can see the new code enter and read a description of what’s going on at the same time.

That would be annoying if every time you came to a code listing you had to page through the animation. So I captured the essential point on the screen and you only need to work through the animation to dig deeper. Some code snippets stand on their own without animation.

This brings me to the fundamental question you need to answer if you’re going to write along with us this year:

Who are you writing for?

If you are just writing for yourself because you have something you just need to get off your chest, then go to it. Cut open the proverbial vein and bleed onto the page.

If you are writing for other people then you have to really consider your audience. Who are they and what is it you are trying to say to them?

That’s today’s task. Figure out what you want to write and for whom.