Matter of Attitude

To write nonfiction, whether science writing or any other kind, is an act of intimacy.You are inviting the reader into your world into your mind, no less. As your close companion, the reader will share the alien cadences of your thought. He will borrow your vocabulary, no doubt of a flavor not quite his own. He will be at the mercy of your skills to see, to hear, to think and feel, to assess people and draw them out, to persist until you really know and, of course, to put what you know into...

Research and the Interview

Now that you have nosed out a story idea or at the least a topic or a juicy question you are ready to look for the living, breathing person or people around whom to build your story. These are the people you will interview, based on research you will have done in advance. As a mature working professional, I seldom found scientists reluctant to talk once they had found me to be well informed and considerate of their time. Writing students tell me, however, that they sometimes get the cold...

An opener should follow seamlessly from the head It should rivet the reader establish rapport between reader and writer

Single paragraph, if the piece is very short, say fewer than five hundred words. For a New Yorker style piece, as many as six paragraphs will be okay, but the first paragraph still has to be riveting. Aristotle's advice, to begin in medias res in the middle of the action , has been helping writers for two thousand years now, and it will help you, too. Some people write the body of the text first and save the opener to write last, to benefit from all the clarity that the writing brought. If that...

Feel free to use weird words or even to make words up an

Idea of which I was reminded by the word flob in the last item. Did you know what I meant by flob I am sure you did. Is the word in the current Random House dictionary No, it is not. Is there a better word for that meaning that does already exist Possibly so, but I don't know it. Flob does appear in the Oxford English Dictionary, however, as well as in my aged unabridged Webster, which defines it as to be clumsy in motion and calls it rare. Too bad I thought I had made it up. Instead, I must...