How to Make a How-To, Part 3

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The third and final installment of my humble offering to help the hesitant write great tutorials!

Step 7: The Missteps

It has been said that the intelligent learn from their own mistakes, and the wise learn from the mistakes of others. It has also been said that the only people who get to erase their mistakes are the ones writing their autobiography. Well, did you want to write a tutorial that only glorifies your genius - or did you want to awaken the genius in others?

I believe you should share your mistakes. It prevents others from making the same ones. Possibly you will get feedback that will help you in the future. Perhaps some wisenheimer will make a smart remark about your intelligence, but so what? You are writing for the millions of genuine haunters out there who will appreciate your candor.

Of course, there is that same element as watching bloopers at the end of a Jackie Chan movie or whatever. It's just fun to see the mistakes, the missteps, the bruises. People who always do everything right are boring. We love to see our hero (that's you!) overcome a few obstacles.

Step 8: The Finished Product

Here it is - your pi?ce de r?sistance! After countless hours of toil plotting, documenting, building, rebuilding, cursing, maybe a visit to the ER or two, your creation is ready for the world. You have spent even more time carefully crafting a witty, informative, comprehensive how-to to inspire that world to follow in your brilliant footsteps. Well, show it off!

I don't know what your particular masterpiece actually DOES, of course. I can tell you that if it moves, blinks, makes noises, or does anything more than sit there and look cool, you should get some video. In all cases, take lots of photos of the finished product. Get all sides. Try different lighting. Pick the best photos and video and let everyone know what they too could aspire to achieve.

If I didn't say it before, I'll say it here. Take one of the best shots of the finished product and put it right at the beginning of your tutorial if you can. Give them a little taste of your genius, and they will want to follow you all the way to the end.

Step 9: The Future

Here we are at the end of the build - but the beginning of the journey! I have found that the more we create, the more we want to create. We might only be halfway through with one build when we are thinking about what we could have done instead. Perhaps after it is complete and you see or hear something that makes you wish you'd gone in a different direction.

Well, share those insights! Maybe next time, you would spring for the extra $5 for steel over aluminum? Maybe you should have left it hollow so it could be fitted with... I don't know, but you do! If you had to do it again, what would you do better or differently? Are you planning a mark 2? What features will that have? What do you wish you knew how to do, but don't, and what would you change if you did?

At the risk of overstating it, you are writing to and for the future. Someone out there will be inspired by what you did, and may have a very different skillset. Their creation could be even more magnificent than your own. What greater payoff could there be than to see some mind-bogglingly wondrous build out there and know that you inspired it?

You have led the way. You have stood on the shoulders of those who went before you and you see a few more possibilities. Share them. Let the future generations now stand upon your shoulders and look even farther.

Happy Haunting!