The first time I realized the pitfalls of writing flashbacks was on reading through the initial edits of my upcoming book, a biography of geologist M. King Hubbert. My editor had scribbled in the […]
Post Tagged with: "Narrative"
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.
Structuring long-form nonfiction writing defies simple rules. Sometimes, you should start at the beginning of a story; other times, the middle or even the end. Sometimes you should follow a single narrative as it unfolds; […]
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.
People with a rare sleep disorder called idiopathic hypersomnia can sleep for days at a time and still wake to sluggish brains and bodies. In fact, hypersomniacs often take extreme measures just to get out […]
Starting in the early 1970s, two German boys—one from the East, one from the West—with binoculars around their necks spent their teenage years pacing either side of the insurmountable Iron Curtain, the “death zone,” looking […]
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 […]
A magnitude 6.3 earthquake ripped through the heart of the central Italian mountain town of L’Aquila in April 2009, killing more than 300 people. To the horror of much of the scientific community, seven scientists […]
You’re assigned to cover new developments in a complicated field. You know you have to include summaries of some results, and enough background to give readers a good overview. How can you bring some deliciously compelling narrative to a summary-type story?
Bertrand Might’s parents knew something was wrong soon after he was born in 2007. The baby was “jiggly” and nearly impossible to comfort; as he grew, his health deteriorated. For years, the Mights searched desperately […]
Many moons ago now, more than I care to remember, I had come from India to study for my master’s in computer science at the University of Delaware in Newark. All foreign teaching assistants, and […]