How to Write a Science Feature

1. Write late at night, preferably the night before your deadline. That’s when the creative juices will really be churning. Your gut will be churning too. With panic. 2. Don’t write the whole piece in one fell swoop. Focus on a single sentence. Make sure that sentence is perfect before you move on to the […]

Who Gives Press Releases Their Power?

Newsflash — Press releases about medical studies may contain hype. That was the conclusion of a report published last week in the medical journal BMJ. Petroc Sumner, a professor at Cardiff University, compared 462 press releases on medical studies from leading United Kingdom universities in 2011 and found that 33 to 40 percent of the […]

Ira Glass is Not My Friend and Some Thoughts on Serial

Last year, I told a story for This American Life (TAL), my favorite radio show. My story was about being so lost in grief over my sister-in-law’s death from cancer that I mistook a pizza delivery guy for an undertaker. My error wasn’t as ridiculous as it seems. The pizza guy had the wrong house, […]

Window Seat

At 3 a.m., a quiet settles like fog around the neighborhood, freckled by a few bursts of sound. Sometimes there’s the whistle of an incoming train. An acoustical trick might carry sea lion barks from distant buoys, the deep buzz of fishing boats, even a wave pummeling the rocks. Occasionally, a single too-loud bird call […]

Stepping Off the Multi-Tasking Treadmill

Yesterday in the Washington Post, I wrote about how I wanted to love my treadmill desk, but I just don’t. I had high hopes. I’ve been a standing desk user for more than 10 years, long before they were a “thing.” I’m an active, restless person who already spends more than 80 percent of my […]

Guest Post: Writing a Relationship

About a year ago I sat in the Members’ Room at the Royal Society as Professor Judith Howard FRS, once a doctoral student of Dorothy Hodgkin’s, explained how crystallographers worked in the early days. She showed me how Dorothy would begin by calibrating the black circles in an X-ray diffraction pattern by eye, to begin […]

Follow the Fish

For a landlubber, I’ve been spending a lot of time around fish. Not long ago, I plunged my hands into paddlefish guts for a story about caviar poaching in the Ozarks; last year, I spent several weeks in very fishy places on and around the Mekong River, researching an ongoing project about hydropower development on the […]

Facts? Sure. Truth? Hmm.

Richard:  A few months ago, Ann wrote a post about beauty and truth in science writing. I object to neither. But she seemed to take exception to a “literary nonfiction” approach to science, and I wondered what in particular her objections were. So I thought I’d ask her. Hey, Ann, what gives?  Ann:   Literary nonfiction […]