Problems with Information Flow


Diagnose You probably have a problem with information flow if you:

1. Draw a line under the first six or seven words and do not find the name of a character that you have heard of before.

2. Circle the first major noun in the sentence and do not find a word or idea that the previous sentences have led you to expect.

Revise

1. List the characters in the story, human and non-human.

2. Select one or a small group of characters that thread through your story.

3. Rearrange each sentence so that it begins with one of the characters you have selected. 



Problems with Information Flow: An Example

The paragraph below is from a computer hardware manufacturer's product guide given to potential and current clients. The guide presents some general background on the company, together with more specific descriptions of the systems and components the company produces.

An accurate picture of the expectation of any given product is obtained through a series of established product tests. For instance, a variety of conditions are recreated in the Accelerated Aging test, thus approximating actual use and ensuring faultless product operation for the customer. Degradation and failures can be observed in less time through the application of conditions more severe than normal. 


Diagnose You have a problem with information flow because you:

1. Have not found characters that you have heard of before in the first six or seven words:

An accurate picture of the expectation of. . . .

2. Have not found that the first major noun in the sentence refers to an idea that previous sentences have led you to expect.

An accurate picture of the expectation of. . . .

Here, you will have to take our word for it: this paragraph starts a new section of the product guide, and nothing on the previous pages made us expect that this section would begin with a discussion of the abstraction "picture of the expectation."

Revise

1. List the characters in the story:

the manufacturer ("we" or "Signet Information Systems")
customers
products
tests

2. Select one or a small group of characters that thread through your story:

Signet Information Systems, tests, products

3. Rearrange each sentence so that it begins with one of the characters you have selected:

Signet Information Systems has established a series of product tests designed to formulate an accurate picture of what can be expected from any given product. The Accelerated Aging Test, for instance, recreates a variety of conditions in order to ensure that each product will operate faultlessly for the customer. It has been developed to approximate more closely the actual use of products. In accelerated testing, components are subjected to conditions more severe than normal in order to speed up aging and obtain degradation and failures in less time.