The Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing and Thinking

Author: Barbara Minto
All Hacker News 7
This Month Hacker News 1


by mindcrime   2021-11-19
Two resources I recommend consulting:

To paraphrase some of King's advice:

"Read a lot and write a lot".

by mindcrime   2020-12-03
I don't think learning to write blog posts is particularly different from learning to write anything else. To the extent that that is true, I'd refer you to Stephen King's book On Writing[1]. Specifically, one bit of advice from that book (loosely paraphrased) "the best way to learn to write well is to read a lot and write a lot".

The other book I'd recommend is The Pyramid Principle[2] by Barbara Minto.



by tombenner   2020-02-16
Nice! You'd asked for my thoughts on this article [0]. Choosing the correction level of abstraction is an important part of naming, so I appreciate that the article focuses on it. (In case anyone is curious, this topic is discussed in the book, too.)

Walking through the Abstraction Ladder with an example is a useful approach here. I'm curious if the same takeaways could be achieved in fewer words (it looks like the article is currently ~3,000 words). I've personally found the Pyramid Principle [1] to be a helpful starting point for determining which points I'd like to make within a piece of writing and then structuring the content around those, which may be applicable here, too.


by tmaly   2019-09-07
If your looking for a good book on writing as far as logical structure, I would highly recommend The Pyramid Principle

by yomly   2019-06-03
My (personal) tl;dr from it was:

- Some light style rules about having no qualifiers e.g. words like "really significant" were banned

- Keep language super concise and non-flowery. Don't try to sound clever, Keep It Simple, Stupid for language basically

- Structure arguments a bit like the Minto pyramid[0] was another one I was told while there

- No one cares how much work or effort went into your doc, or how clever it is, only the final artefact of your work/thought should make it into the doc no matter how concisely you can express it


by rahimnathwani   2018-11-10
Most people don't:

- Consider their audience

- Make use of structure

- Repeatedly edit what they have written before hitting send

The first and third items are things you can just decide to do: think of your audience, and spend time to read and adjust the content and format until it's great.

For the second item, consider this book:

by tmaly   2018-11-10
the book The Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing and Thinking is a fantastic resource. The first part of the book discusses how to structure your ideas in writing to communicate them well. The second half of the book addresses logical thinking

by mindcrime   2018-08-31
Vis-a-vis written communication: A book that I discovered via a recommendation here on HN, and which I will recommend in turn, is The Pyramid Principle[1] by Barbara Minto.

In terms of spoken communication... I'd suggest looking into Toastmasters, and/or just volunteer to speak at user-group meetings and things of that nature. There are a number of good books out there on public speaking / presenting, but most of what I've learned on the topic came from online sources (like threads here on HN) and just practice.

Also, as somebody else said: read lots of books. Try blogging / writing in some context. The more you write, the better you'll get. Somebody, I think maybe it was Stephen King[2], said something like (paraphrased) "the best way to learn to write well is to read a lot and write a lot".



by mindcrime   2017-08-20
Somebody, I think it was Stephen King, once said something like "the best way to get better at writing is to write a lot, and read a lot". I seem to recall this sentiment being expressed in King's book On Writing, but I may be mis-remembering. Anyway, it rings true with me. Read, write, read some more, write some more, lather, rinse, repeat.

If you need something to help encourage you to write, consider participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)[1][2].

Also, there are TONS of resources available for people who are working on getting better at writing. Just go down to any Barnes & Noble store and find the section with the writing books, and you'll find shelves full of books on "how to be a better writer". Some are aimed at fiction, some non-fiction, some specifically for writers of memoirs, magazine articles, etc.

It's sort of cliched to say, but The Elements of Style by Strunk and White is excellent, as is Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

I have been trying to improve my English a little but not having anybody to write to or any need to use English makes me believe that I will be stagnated in a low level profile, and that I will never will achieve the level of mastery and proficiency they show so well in their writing.

Maybe consider starting a blog in English, and just write about whatever interests you. It doesn't even really matter if you get any readers/followers or not, the important thing is just to write as much as you can.

All of this advice is predicated on the idea that you're more interested in getting better at written English. If you want to be a better public speaker the best thing to do is, wait for it... do a lot of speaking!

One good way to get yourself some practice speaking is to join a group like Toastmasters[3], if you have a chapter nearby. If not, there may be a similar group, but you may have to dig a little. Another option would be to find any local techie user-groups (Linux User's Group, Ruby Meetup, Java Meetup, whatever it might be) and offer to present there. These groups often struggle to find enough speakers to fill their calendars, and any volunteers of usually (in my experience) warmly welcomed.

Edit: I just remembered, there is another book, which I found recommended here on HN a while back, and just recently acquired, which I consider excellent. It's called The Pyramid Principle[4], by Barbara Minto. This book is less about language, and more about structure and organization, in terms of how you present your ideas. I recommend this one very highly.





by mindcrime   2017-08-20
The dirty little secret of writing is that it never gets easy. It might look like other writers can bust out beautiful seamless prose without breaking a sweat, but what you don't see are the hundreds of little revisions and rewrites that happen, sometimes just inside their brain.

That is so true. I read somewhere once that a big reason many people don't try writing is because they read their favorite writers, and then try to write something, and when their words don't come out like, say, Stephen King, they give up. And the thing I was reading (sorry, don't remember the exact source now) was basically making the same point you just made. So, if you want to write like Stephen King, or Dean Koontz, or Haruki Murakami or Ernest Hemingway or whoever, you have to realize that their works didn't just flow from their fingertips in one continuous stream of perfection, from beginning direct to end. The great writers revise and revise and edit and revise and rewriter obsessively. Or so I hear. Koontz is notorious for saying that he only writes one page at a time, and he keeps rewriting that page until he's happy with it.

Because writing, at its most fundamental level, is the art of making your own ideas more clear to yourself. So how do you become a better writer? Become a more clear thinker.

That reminds me of another book that I see recommended here on HN quite often, and which I myself bought on such a recommendation. It's called The Pyramid Principle.

I'm only part way through it, but I think it's quite worthwhile. The basic premise is about logic and clarity and organization in thinking & writing.