An article about publishing articles written the way articles should be written. Or something.

“Skeuomorphism is traditionally attached to design decisions. We bring the mechanical camera shutter sound to digital cameras because it feels good. We render paper page flips in our digital reading applications because it’s familiar.”

via Subcompact Publishing — by Craig Mod.

Read that over again.

OK, let me tell you two things about that short paragraph.

First, it does not come after a definition of “skeuomorphism”. It’s slung into the middle of the article without even a how-d’ye-do.

Second, it’s better than any dictionary definition.

Third… OK, I guess it’s three things.

Third, the mental exercise you’ve just gone through, figuring out what a ridiculous-looking word like “skeuomorphism” might mean based on what at first looks like zero evidence? And then feels like “more than ample” evidence? And then reveals itself as that elusively elegant “just barely enough” evidence that I’d kill to have written myself? Yeah, you have to do that for the whole article. Genius.

This is not the “tell ’em what you’re gonna tell ’em — tell ’em — tell ’em what you told ’em” essay we all learned to write in high school. This is something else entirely.

I used to tutor at the Northeastern University Writing Canter, one of my many duties as a graduate slave. I particularly liked this one, because I got to work with many EFL (English as a Foreign Language) students and learn how other languages arrange themselves. One student I worked with was Japanese, and was having trouble with the blunt, ham-fisted American thesis structure.

In Japanese writing, she told me, elegant prose does not just BLAH the main point right off the bat. Elegant writing speaks around the topic, leading the reader to a very satisfying “aha!” moment at the conclusion. And you’ve gotta admit — readers are far less likely to say “so what?” to a point they’ve seemingly arrived at themselves.

That’s what Craig Mod is doing here — leading us through examples that contribute to but do not entirely define the topic. Its up to us to build the thing as we go along.

Give yourself a treat — set aside some time to read this slowly, and truly appreciate the writing skill involved.

Oh — also you might be interested in the information about compact publishing. I guess.

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Filed under Nerd Candy, Wordy Awesomeness of the Day, Writing and Writers

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