HippoCamp 2016 Session Recap: Writing Creatively With Science

by Amy Fish

Seventeen Lessons Learned from “Writing Creatively With Science” (Jeanine Pfeiffer)

1.    Abalone are sea snails.
2.    When writing about science, you can use a non-scientific story to draw your reader in.
3.    There is at least one Native American story about abalone.
4.    There are excellent essays about science in the New Yorker. None of them feature sea snails.
5.    Read Oxygen by Carol Cassella.
6.    Researching science can give texture to your essays.
7.    Make the effort to get the scientific aspects correct when you are writing.
8.    Google Scholar often has links to PDFs of entire articles. I’m sure some are about abalone.
9.    If you can’t find something on Google Scholar, try Open Access Journals or your local library.
10.    Use the free sample feature of Amazon Kindle to try out scientific books.
11.    A great way to learn about science is to interview scientists in person and visit their labs.
12.    Take a scientist for lunch or breakfast and ask tons of questions.
13.    If the scientist does not want lunch or breakfast, bring him or her baked goods and ask tons of questions.
14.    If the scientist uses big words be patient, eventually it will all make sense. If it does not make sense, try another scientist.
15.    Read H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald.
16.    Read Birdology by Sy Montgomery.
17.    There are more books written about birds than you would think. Maybe we should let abalone have a turn.