Guest Post: Brontosaurus and Me

The biggest science story this week was really, really big. Brontosaurus, weighing in at about 16 metric tons, is a taxonomic contender once again, thanks to a 300 page long cladistic analysis in the online journal PeerJ.  (Spoiler alert: Yes, the rest of this piece will include puns, jokes and allusions to classic films just […]

Journalists Should Act More Like Scientists

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” — Some wise person who wasn’t Einstein. “I don’t think we need to necessarily institute a lot of new ways of doing things,” [Rolling Stone managing editor, Will] Dana, said. “We just have to do what we’ve always done […]

Ye Olde Scientific Writing

A few weeks ago, biologist Stephen Heard blogged about beauty in scientific writing. Among his examples, he cited an elegant explanation of quantum mechanics research and a playful description of a snake surveying a “disconsolate line” of frogs. More details can be found in Heard’s paper on the subject, which calls for scientists to strive […]

Sassy Smocks and Moist Panties

  Words are a writer’s currency, and we each have our favorites. The first word I remember falling in love with was onomatopoeia. It had a satisfying rhythm, plus there was the delight of discovering, oh — there’s a word for that. That joy of discovery was exactly what I felt reading Lost in Translation, […]

Freelancing Sucks. Long Live Freelancing.

Last month, Fast Company senior editor Reyhan Harmanci published a column called “Freelancing Sucks.” She wrote: Everyone knows this: the freelancers, who are forced to beg for months-late checks; the editors, who surf on an endless sea of referrals, looking for unicorn writers who turn in copy clean and on time; the readers, who get the […]

To File or Pile?

With the new year often comes an urge to purge all my unnecessary belongings. I dream of tossing entire filing boxes of documents into the recycling bin, hauling a dozen garbage bags of clothes to Goodwill, or whittling down my possessions to a few suitcases and moving into a tiny house. This year, I was motivated […]

Holiday Redux: The Pocket Guide to Bullshit Prevention

LWON is celebrating the holidays by re-running some of our favorite posts. This post originally appeared in April 2014, but its applications multiply.  Wishing you a very happy—and bullshit-free—2015. I am often wrong. I misunderstand; I misremember; I believe things I shouldn’t. I’m overly optimistic about the future quality of Downton Abbey, and inexact in my […]

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 […]