There’s an Evil Hand Afoot and Other Ways to Spice Up Your Technical Literature

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. Dennis Pearce, the runner up in the 2010 Detective story category, penned the following words:

DALL-E Generated image for "there is an evil hand afoot"  How can we make technical literature more interesting?
DALL-E generated image in response to the prompt “There is an evil hand afoot”.

As Holmes, who had a nose for danger, quietly fingered the bloody knife and eyed the various body parts strewn along the dark, deserted highway, he placed his ear to the ground and, with his heart in his throat, silently mouthed to his companion, “Arm yourself, Watson, there is an evil hand afoot ahead.”

Pondering this particularly good piece of bad writing, I found myself wondering what would happen if we used this over-the-top style in tehnical literature including scientific articles and protocols. Could it help to draw attention to important details and entertain the reader at the same time? But since the goal of instructional materials is to be clear, concise and to the point, there’s not usually much room for just-for-fun content.

Or is there?

Continue reading “There’s an Evil Hand Afoot and Other Ways to Spice Up Your Technical Literature”