Rewriting Academic to Popular English Books

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vic-k
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Mon Aug 08, 2016 9:36 pm Post

lunk wrote:Oh... Well... No. You can't re-write something if you haven't first written it, can you?
Just because I'm a HAW, it doesn't necessarily follow that I can read minds,
DocLand wrote:rewrite of all the long, recursive, parochial and complex language of the academic world
but transforming this lot!! :roll:....
DocLand wrote:into some gripping form.
...into this :roll:, I don't believe it to be an unreasonable assumption that what Docland had in mind, when he refers to rewriting, is in fact the process as outlined by the lovely Rose.
Of course, there is that .000000001% chance I could be wrong.
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lunk
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Tue Aug 09, 2016 5:21 am Post

... in which case you would have to re-think? :)
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Tue Aug 09, 2016 8:19 am Post

DocLand wrote:I have done several academic theses and writings. I want to get the main themes in a public context for anyone to read. It means a complete rewrite of all the long, recursive, parochial and complex language of the academic world into some gripping form. Most thinking tend to be Germanic, philosophical and continental in style; I was told it was understood by avid uk readers but somewhat unusual English for us readers.
Aiming at the international English environment, what are the rules for non-fiction writing to such an audience. Does anyone have experience in this direction? Any suggestions will be welcomed.


This is part of what I do for a living as a developmental editor. I was an academic for nearly 30 years and resigned my tenure in order to write more freely across institutional boundaries, and then had to find an income stream that didn't intrude too much. And so now part of my portfolio is helping academics with interesting research to recast their monograph material into non-fiction works. I think all of them would 'abjure the popular' but they all want a wider, non-specialist audience.

There are absolutely no rules or algorithms for this. I think writing too closely for an imagined audience can sometimes be damaging (it assumes you know too much about them); I think an artificially informal voice can sometimes be damaging (your reader needs to trust the narrator). Sometimes a complete re-write is the only way, but that depends heavily on the particular academic subject. For my own writing project (basically history of medicine) I have kept parts of lecture notes and parts of conference papers verbatim, but the whole structure has been entirely redeveloped.

One piece of advice I do think worth passing on: academic texts are generally properly argumentative - hence they rely heavily on a *conceptual/logical* structuring to make their specific points; but non-fiction texts need to have a *narrative* structure that can (at least sometimes) float entirely free from the conceptual. Getting this right is the most exciting and the most daunting part.
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vic-k
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Tue Aug 09, 2016 9:19 am Post

lunk wrote:... in which case you would have to re-think? :)

If needs must .. but in this case, ... the Devil is in the detail. "Would" doesn't enter into it. Could? ... Should? ... of course. As I've stated elsewhere on Scriv's hallowed fora, I don't claim infallibility, only: near-infallibility. But, my cute little moggy friend, even:
lunk wrote:... in which case you would have to re-think?
is no guarantee of an onset of self doubt, causing me to rewrite, or even, to use it as data base from which I attempt to produce a best-selling novel, e.g., 49 Shades of Pink Pussies or wot-ever.

Were one to try and reads between the lines in DocLand's OP, I'm sure other interpretations could be possible, as well as a literal one.

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Tue Aug 09, 2016 10:23 am Post

vic-k wrote:Were one to try and reads between the lines ...


This is usually quite difficult, but not always. Several years ago I had reason to read a thesis published in Germany 1944. The paper was so thin that I could read through the paper what was written on the other side. And the text being slightly offset between pages, resulted in the opposite side text ending up between lines, so I was literally reading backwards, mirrored text between the lines.

...

Oh, you meant metaphorically? :shock:
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Tue Aug 09, 2016 11:11 am Post

lunk wrote:This is usually quite difficult, but not always. Several years ago I had reason to read a thesis published in Germany 1944. The paper was so thin that I could read through the paper what was written on the other side. And the text being slightly offset between pages, resulted in the opposite side text ending up between lines, so I was literally reading backwards, mirrored text between the lines.

Oh, you meant metaphorically? NO! Jeezzzz! No! ^ :roll: that's wot I'm talking about. The permutations of possibilities is boundless!! :twisted: Yeah? init? James Joyce ... y can stick y' Finnegan's Wake up y' postérieur

None of which, of course, aids DocLand, with his/her appointed task of turning
all the long, recursive, parochial and complex language of the academic world
into
some gripping form
A woefully unenviable task :(

And now, having subsequently broached the subject of this atrocious abuse of Scriv's generous Off-Topic Licence, I offer my sincerest apology, to DocLand, and promise not to return to this thread unless I have something genuinely constructive to offer to the debate.

Take care
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yosimiti
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Tue Aug 09, 2016 12:01 pm Post

Vic, based on your last post, are you by any chance a James Joyce fan?

Your writing style evokes some of his tonality.

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Tue Aug 09, 2016 12:13 pm Post

vic-k wrote:
some gripping form


"You wanna grip someone?? I'll get you for gripping!", she screamed and stretched out a skinny hand with clawlike fingers.
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Tue Aug 09, 2016 12:50 pm Post

yosimiti wrote:Vic, based on your last post, are you by any chance a James Joyce fan?
Your writing style evokes some of his tonality.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1CP5Lz2iHE
Ah ye old whore, ye!! Is it not th'old Irish tonality y's be on about?

lunk wrote:"You wanna grip someone?? I'll get you for gripping!", she screamed and stretched out a skinny hand with clawlike fingers.

Photo on 09-08-2016 at 13.42.jpeg
Photo on 09-08-2016 at 13.42.jpeg (21.95 KiB) Viewed 904 times

This the kindda gripping' y'talkin' about, puss?
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Tue Aug 09, 2016 1:45 pm Post

A perfect example of gripping non-fiction.
Last edited by lunk on Tue Aug 09, 2016 3:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Tue Aug 09, 2016 3:00 pm Post

vic-k wrote:
yosimiti wrote:As always, Vic, you both confuse and amaze me.

Nor am I suggesting you mimmic my predilection for bastardisation of all accepted standards of syntax and grammar.
Vic

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Although gr is starting to decay just a little. I'm worried he is about to spontaneously "go vic-k" on us all...
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