Sometimes I write a story’s ending first, and sometimes it pops into my head when I get there. Other times it feels like I’ve already said it all and I struggle with the kicker. But easy or hard, endings deserve as much care as beginnings.
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Let’s say you want to write about science for kids, and you want them to actually enjoy reading it—no one wants to sound like the adults from a Charlie Brown cartoon. For starters, the best way to write science for young people is to put yourself into the mindset of your readers.
Kathryn Schulz’s New Yorker story “The Really Big One” opens in Japan, moments before the 2011 Tohuku earthquake. American seismologist Chris Goldfinger, who is attending an international conference in the city of Kashiwa, feels the room begin to shake.
Great investigative projects usually begin with journalists brave enough to be guided by their own curiosity even if their sources—or their colleagues—think they’re a bit daft. Such journalists allow themselves to articulate the embarrassingly obvious, […]
Well begun is half done. Scratch that—no clichés. Um. Just as breakfast is the most important meal of the day, the beginning is the most important part of a story. Snore. And that first bit […]
Imagine you’re a crime reporter writing a story about a shooting at a nightclub. Now imagine that none of your readers know what a gun is. Suddenly, your story got a whole lot harder to write. You can’t just jump into the shooter’s backstory, or the victim’s suffering, or the detective work that led to an arrest. Instead, you’ve got to explain … Welcome to the science writer’s dilemma.
Only my name appears above this story, but it bears the imprint of an editor’s invisible hand as well, and is the better for it. Every writer, no matter how seasoned or esteemed, needs an […]
My editors at Nature must have thought I was crazy when I pitched a 4000-word feature to be “written” almost entirely in direct quotes from sources. I probably was. But my oral history of the […]