When I write I need to remind myself of the point sometimes. It may sound funny but it’s true. I set out to write a book that shows how to use data services of all kinds with Silverlight 2. Sounds easy to stay on topic, but it has proven difficult at times. For example, in the chapter where I describe how to use custom entities and entities from tools like LINQ to SQL and the Entity Framework with WCF services that talk to Silverlight (and back), I could easily go on for a coupe hundred pages. Do I get into all the details of creating Entity Framework models, the pros, the cons, tips and tricks of doing so? It is very tempting to get into all of these details but I have to remind myself that the book’s purpose is to “show how data services interact with Silverlight”, not how the data services work in detail.
This is a core part of writing for me: understanding and accepting the purpose and scope of the book. Would I love to get into all the details? Sure I would! I love these types of topics. But then the purpose of the book would be distorted. Yes it is a self imposed purpose, but its what I want to stick to.
I am trying to keep the chapters between 25 and 30 pages in length. Some are a little over and some are a little under, but that’s OK. It makes for some chapters that seem short … but that’s the point! When I sit down to read a book I like that I can do so and finish a chapter in a reasonable amount of time. If the chapter is 80 pages or its 10 pages, I will sit down and read it through to its end … time be darned! But long chapters tend to lose my interest … well not really …they lose my focus. So I want to keep the chapters of this book short enough to allow the reader to easily digest the material and move on. I could have combined some chapters or beefed them up just to make it thicker, but that’s not me.
That brings me to my 3rd goal/purpose: talk about the topic, then show it. This is really a style of mine that I like to do whether it be in writing or presenting. I like to discuss the topic and then follow that up with an example that demonstrates that topic. Tell them what you are saying, say it, show them, and the tell them what you just said. I could go on and on about theory and concepts, but I like a show and tell style, so that’s what my book focuses on. This is not a book on Silverlight that walks from A-Z, instead if assumes basic knowledge and shows how to reap some rewards using Silverlight data features and data services. So my chapters discuss a topic and follow it up with by presenting an example that emphasizes it.
Whatever I write about, I always remind myself of why I am writing it … it helps to explain it to myself :-)