Write Way Steno Theory
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The authors of the Write Way Steno Theory© together have over 60 years of experience writing steno, 44 years of experience writing real time, and 34 years of experience training court reporters to write realtime and to caption.
Why is that important? We’ve “been there, done that” – and learned a lot along the way. Write Way© was written by folks who know what works in real life, and what really works best only on paper.
One way to decrease the time students must spend in school is to focus only on the basics in the beginning. Write Way© focuses on:
- Learning the theory
- Writing accurately
- And especially building steno speed.
The fact is that steno students do not fail to pass the skills portion of the RPR test or their state CSR test because they have unresolved conflicts. They fail primarily due to a lack of steno speed, a failure to correctly decipher their steno notes, or both. The Write Way Steno Theory© helps students pass the certification tests by allowing them to devote their time and attention to what is most important.
We have seen over and over that steno writers who have already attained significant steno speed have an easier time dealing with homophone conflicts. That’s why it’s so important that building speed and maintaining accuracy come first. We also know from long experience that steno writers can successfully learn to resolve conflicts as they write, even many years after they graduated from steno school, and Write Way Steno Theory© provides students with all the tools they need to incorporate homophone resolution into their writing. Homophones are not ignored – the most common conflicts are resolved right from the start – but they are reduced to the most basic ones at first.
Every steno theory includes writing phonetically, but the quest for conflict-free outlines often gets in the way. The guiding principle of Write Way© is that words that are written the most often get the easiest, most phonetic, and shortest outlines possible. For instance, to avoid homophone conflicts, Write Way does not advocate that students deliberately write extra strokes on the so-called inflected endings – plurals or present-tense singular words that end in s, past tense words that end in ed, and gerunds or progressive tense verbs ending in ing. This practice of shortening outlines saves the stenographer thousands of extra strokes every working day – in the neighborhood of 600 strokes per hour. Besides reducing a stenographer’s fatigue factor, it also significantly decreases the likelihood of error.
Write Way© chooses a simple model: If a word can be written in one stroke, it probably should be. The point is to write as phonetically as possible, without requiring many “mandatory” brief forms, and also to meet or beat the syllable count. For the few types of words where that isn’t a good idea, extra strokes are reserved for infrequent occasions.
Gifted writers do exist. Anyone who has been an instructor for long enough, and been lucky enough, will have encountered some folks like this in class. It probably doesn’t really matter what theory these talented people learn; even difficult-to-learn or difficult-to-write theory will not keep them from doing well. However, a difficult steno theory will definitely keep the rest of the students – the majority – from excelling.
To that end, Write Way Steno Theory© is real-life steno that can be mastered by anyone of reasonable dexterity. Being very talented is always helpful, but with Write Way© one does not need to be an exceptional writer. For instance, the theory can be written successfully on a machine that has wide keys, but they are not required for the simple reason that for the average writer, wide keys often cause more problems than they solve. We’ve seen too many writers whose accuracy was hindered by wide keys, so Write Way© does not require their use.
5.) Write Way Steno Theory© avoids common pitfalls.
In the course of training scores of realtime writers over the years, we’ve seen the same outlines trip up trainee after trainee. We believe the simplest way to avoid certain types of very common fingering errors is to prevent them in the first place. Write Way© is unique because it includes safeguards against common stacking and fingering errors.
Write Way Steno Theory© also eliminates the need for arbitrary rules about doubling consonants and about how to divide multisyllabic words – which are the source of hesitation, finger errors, and word-boundary problems – through the use of suffixes.
As we have said, the failure to correctly decipher steno notes is one of the two main reasons why students fail to pass their certification tests. An intimate familiarity with steno and the ability to read it – as opposed to relying strictly on software translation – is essential.
Every lesson in the Write Way Steno Theory© includes illustrations that include steno. Most of the exercises in Volume 2 are presented partly in English and partly in steno. Volume 3 of Write Way Steno Theory© also includes examples of less-than-perfect steno for your students to decipher, since the ability to read through broken, stacked, or incomplete outlines will at times be required, and may easily make the difference between passing and not passing the RPR and/or CSR test.
Write Way© also refrains from suggesting key-intensive outlines for phrases that, while logical, are likely to be misstroked. The inadvertent addition or subtraction of one errant key can lead to a very wrong translation with these types of phrases, and we know from years of observing that a mistranslated outline is usually far worse than one that fails to translate at all.
When it comes to features like numbers – including dollars and cents, fractions, decimals, ordinal numbers, time of day, percentages, and Roman numerals – it makes sense to use the formatting capabilities of modern software. The Write Way Steno Theory© gives students the ability to do just that.
Modern CAT software is also adept at punctuation, and the addition of suffixes, such as possessives and inflected endings, and Write Way© takes advantage of these capabilities.
As we have said, Write Way Steno Theory© resolves the most common homophone conflicts, and provides all the tools required to resolve the rest, but does not require that students have every possible conflict resolved before they graduate from school. With regard to homophones, translation software conflict resolution will be of some assistance to reporters in the process of preparing transcripts, although the conflict resolution is less than perfect. The ultimate goal is to write in such a way that conflicts are distinguished by using different outlines, and Write Way© will enable your students to achieve this.
The Write Way Steno Theory© consists of a three-step approach to learning steno theory.
- First is Volume 1: The Basics. Here the student learns the essentials, and concentrates on the three most important aspects: Learning the theory, writing accurately, and building speed. Some very basic homophone resolutions are included, but the student is not encumbered with trying to write perfect real-time ready notes at this early stage.
- Next comes Volume 2: Making it Easier, which focuses on more advanced theory, speaker identification, many more briefs and phrases, and other ways to make writing steno easier. More homophone resolution is included in Volume 2, but the focus is still on ways to write shorter, more accurate notes.
- The third portion, Volume 3: Getting it Right, presents sophisticated strategies to resolve homophone conflicts and to avoid word-boundary problems – including what not to write. Volume 3 addresses working in mixed case and other advanced tips for making the translation as perfect as possible the first time around. While the information in Volume 3 is vital to anyone wanting to write using realtime translation for such applications as CART or captioning, a student may graduate from school and work as a court reporter while still incorporating the concepts in Volume 3 into his or her writing.
Also available for students is the Write Way© starter steno dictionary in .RTF format, with over 100,000 entries, ready to be imported into their software.
- "Table of Contents" for Volume 1 and Volume 2
- Sample lesson from Volume 1
- Sample lesson from Volume 2
Accompanying each volume of the Write Way Steno Theory© is a corresponding Teacher Guide. Each lesson includes Teacher’s Notes with further tips regarding steno, supplemental dication material, a listing of all brief forms in the lesson, and answer keys to quizzes and any untranslated steno notes from the student edition. Also included in many cases are extensive lists of words that fit the particular lesson. These lists can be used as-is for dictation purposes, or they can be used by the instructor to construct further supplemental dictation.