Writing Naked by Kevin Wm. Daniel, RDR-CRR and Mary Cox Daniel, RDR-CRR ISBN 1-881859-50-9 105 pages; spiral bound NCRA Press, 1998 $26.95 for NCRA members $33.95 for nonmembers
Before launching into the review of Kevin and Mary Daniel’s book, Writing Naked: Principles of Writing for Realtime and Captioning, I should preface my remarks with a bit of background.
I had the privilege of working for Kevin and Mary when they owned Bay Area Captioning, joining them in their second year of business (their first full-time year). I worked with them for five years, captioning local news and sports. I learned more about writing, period, in those five years than in all of my 15-plus-year career. When I would have problems with my writing, I had the benefit of talking to both of them.
I found that Kevin and Mary write quite differently, and approach realtime writing from quite different perspectives. But having them both available as friends (and bosses) gave me the best of both worlds. That’s exactly what you get with Writing Naked – the best advice from both incredibly knowledgeable captioners – a “two-fer.” And reading this book is like a walk down memory lane for me, writing-wise.
You’ll definitely notice different patterns of thought in resolution of conflicts. Sometimes they do the exact opposite (e.g., Kevin’s “seen” is Mary’s “scene,” and vice-versa), and sometimes you’ll see patterns in one author’s approach that fit your writing style perfectly.
This point is the main reason why I feel this is such a useful book. Having two points of view is a great help. Sometimes one person’s way of resolving problems just clicks with you, and sometimes it makes no sense. Then you look at the other viewpoint. Having the outlines side-by-side gives you a chance at a glance to get a different perspective; and there’s even space in every chart to add your own notes.
Overall, I found the advice in Writing Naked to be sound, basic advice – a lot of common sense that maybe we don’t always think of. The name of the book is appropriate, and the picture on the cover brings a grin even if you don’t know Kevin. Sometimes in our journey for realtime perfection, we don’t see the forest for the trees, unless someone hits us over the head with one of the trees!
Be sure to read Chapter 1 (“Getting Started”) first. Seems obvious, right? Many people jump right to the meat of a book of this type, thinking they’ll skip over the basic stuff at the beginning. But Kevin & Mary’s best advice is to be found in this one short chapter: Start small and don’t get overwhelmed. If you’re a new realtimer, and you start by turning to Appendix A (the list of homonyms), you’ll get discouraged so fast that you’ll probably end up rolling the book up and using it as a Yule log.
Take Kevin and Mary’s advice and read the book in order. It’s well worth the time, and you won’t be overwhelmed that way. The spiral binding is great. Keep the book open on your desk when you’re practicing.
The chapter on numbers is extremely helpful. Writing numbers in realtime is one of the scariest parts of starting realtime, and this is another place where you can benefit from the experience of both authors.
The chapter entitled “How Not to Flunk the CRR” is a gem. If you plan to take the CRR exam, rush out and buy this book. There are other places to learn how to pass the CRR, but their advice on how not to flunk comes from a completely different angle. Did you know that if you write absolutely perfect notes that translate absolutely perfectly, you can still flunk the CRR by turning in an ASCII diskette that’s single-spaced instead of double-spaced? Did you know that if your ASCII diskette has headers and footers each word of the header and/or footer counts as an error? If you’ll be taking the test, you need to know these things!
The best part of the book is the appendices. Having side-by-side listings of ways to resolve this voluminous collection of homonyms, prefixes, and suffixes is invaluable. Having these lists in one place when I started captioning would have saved me hundreds of hours of research, not to mention blood, sweat, and tears (literally)!
I tried very hard to find something negative to say about this book, because I didn’t want people to think this was just a “slam-dunk” review written by a long-time friend of Kevin & Mary’s to help them sell books. But the only negative thing I can come up with is that they should have written this eight years ago, before I spent five years picking their brains for all of these golden nuggets.