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15 July 2008

My Book: Long is not necessarily useful…

As I proceeded with my writing I came to identify some general characteristics of good writing, particularly for a book of this nature that’s meant not for the medical community but for lay patients. The win-win attributes that I identified for my book are: clarity, accuracy, accessibility, conciseness and correctness.

Clarity to my mind implies that the writing must have one and just one meaning and this meaning must emerge in a straightforward, unambiguous way. Lack of accuracy likewise leads to lack of readability; while accessibility implies the ease with which readers can locate the information they are seeking.

Finally, I also wanted to limit my book to a maximum of 80-90 pages. Beyond that, I am convinced that fatigues sets in, especially in case of non-fiction. The longer a non-fiction document is, the more difficult it is to use, for the simple reason that it takes more of user's time.

Further, clarity and conciseness are often at loggerheads with each other, but in the end analysis it is possible to balance the two. It is for instance, possible to shorten most writing by 10-20% simply by eliminating unnecessary phrases, eliminating all the medical jargon and choosing shorter over longer words and using economical grammatical forms, what is what I did with this book.

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