26th February, 2005

If I could scrunch up my screen…

I need your advice again, dearest readers. I’m currently mid-way through writing my chapter for a forthcoming book about blogging. It’s the first time I’ve put together anything so lengthy to a definite publisher’s deadline, and it’s my first real attempt at combining XHTML, CSS, PHP, images and plain English in print. What’s more, I’m actually trying to make it interesting, light-hearted, and dare I say, funny.

However, I feel like I’m writing in a vacuum. Half-way through my draft, and I’m concerned about losing focus, humour, and falling into a way too rigourous formula. Well, I don’t think that’s happening, but I need to continually keep re-reading, checking my facts, and actually building what I’m suggesting.

Then, there is the way we (those of us who blog or generally write about code) incorporate code snippets into dialogue, or break large chunks into swallowable pieces for easy mastication. I keep wondering, how would other people approach this? What would make it easier, or more interesting for me as the author?

So, I think this post may be singing out to a smaller section of my readership, but all the same, if you have experience of writing about code, computers, blogs, CSS, or anything particularly technical, please let me know what works for you? How do you keep it from drying up? What do you find works as a method of breaking up a big subject into a manageable, easily followable tutorial?

Alternatively, as a reader of blogs, geeky books, or automobile-engine manuals or whatever, what format suits you? When a blogger comes up with a cracking new tip or technique, does your heart break when it’s described in a particular fashion, or is there a way certain authors write up such stuff that makes your little ticker sing?

Any advice, however vague, would be useful. Come to think of it, with a glut of new industry books being published with increasing zest, are the publishers missing out on any key subjects? Are books like “The Zen of CSS Design”, “Designing With Web Standards” and “That Book With The American Bloke In The Woolly Hat on it” (as it’s now described by all eager contracted Agenzia coders) enough, or are we putting too much focus on the exciting subjects? We all link to and talk about XHTML/CSS books, but never talk about the great books about Python, PHP or less-popular languages.

Basically, I might write a book of my own, and I’ve thought of writing about building the perfect CMS-based magazine/company/community site using a bog-standard blog tool or similar. It would focus also on managing the project, dealing with the client - sort of empowering the bedroom-based designer to take clients away from people like me. Would that be of any use to you?

Oh, I just got publishing on my mind today. Ignore, or discuss.


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