Table of Contents
The goal of this project was to take a long news article on the subject of “healing” crystals and distil its’ contents into both Descriptive and Informative summaries. The purpose of a Descriptive Summary is to outline to the reader the major themes of a piece. Effectively, it needs to act as a guide as to whether the contents of the writing will be of interest, allowing them to determine whether they wish to read the full piece. An Informative Summary, on the other hand, aims to summarise the key points of the material. An Informative Summary should be capable of being read in isolation from the original, while still providing the same crucial details.
I include this work in this portfolio as I believe it is a good representation of both my technical writing and editing abilities. The original article is approximately 5,000 words in length. The Descriptive Summary was limited to a mere 50 words, while the Informative version had a limit of just 200 words. To meet these restrictions, I needed to carefully assess the content and decide which were the essential points. I did this by breaking the report into bullet points and proceeded to remove all but the vital elements. Once I completed this stage, I had to meticulously order these points logically and begin to form them into paragraphs. Because the summaries needed to be as accessible as possible, I focused on using Plain English (Collinson 1992) while being extremely economical with phrasing.
Producing these summaries was a significant challenge. As one of our first assignments on the MA programme, it was the first time our tutors would be assessing our writing abilities. My natural style of writing tends to be verbose. As such, learning to condense details into such a tight limit was difficult at first. However, by completing several drafts, I was able to become more skilled at only including the essential facts. I believe this experience has improved my writing as a whole. I think being able to summarise information succinctly is an important skill for a technical writer as it may be necessary to convey complicated topics to colleagues or clients.
The original text for this assignment was sourced from The Guardian. You can read it on their website, or in the viewer below.
McClure’s discussion of “healing” crystals’ manufacture begins by describing various products available and exploring the market’s recent rapid growth.
Interviewing miners, their families, and visiting mining sites depicts the dangers, hardships and low rewards in Madagascar – a key producer.
Retailers and buyers highlight the industry’s poor transparency, customers’ role and bleak prospects for future improvement.
Common crystals are formed worldwide when water and steam carry mineral particles into fractures in the earth. Despite scientific scepticism of their efficacy for “healing”, consumer demand doubled over the past three years, primarily due to social media trends, celebrities championing their use and growing interest in alternative spirituality and healing. High-end dealers alone generate approximately $500m annually.
Impoverished Madagascar is one key producer. 80% of the population outside cities earn under $1.90 daily. Many people mine crystals in cramped, dangerous conditions for meagre incomes. Large 50Kg – 60Kg mineral clumps are extracted manually and sometimes dragged for five kilometres for collection to export. Landslides and cancer caused by inhalation of dust are significant hazards. Child labour is widespread, and mining damages the Madagascan rainforest as workers migrate to new sites.
Rough crystals are worth very little. Once refined and passed along the supply chain, they are often exponentially more valuable. To keep more money within the country, some producers in Madagascar process locally rather than exporting raw stones for less.
The industry lacks regulation and transparency. Tracing stones’ origin is difficult. No “Fair Trade” equivalent exists. There are slim prospects of improvement short term, as retailers believe customers won’t pay more for ethically sourced crystals.
Collinson, D. (1992). Plain English, 2nd ed. Buckingham, England: Open University Press.