Top tips for writing about science & medicine (for non communicators)

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Information about Top tips for writing about science & medicine (for non communicators)

Published on March 16, 2016

Author: KaraGavin


1. Top 10 Tips for Writing about Science & Medicine 1. Put your audience first. If youcan, figure outwho you will reachdirectly ormightreachindirectly. Think aboutwhat theirknowledge levelis,andwhatyoumightwant themtodo. If you trulydon’tknow,assume average scientificknowledge,interestandfamiliaritywithterms.  Are theyaffectedbya disease you’re writingabout,sotheymighttake aspecial interest?  Do youwant themto thinksomethingiscool andshare it?  Do youwant themto donate to, or volunteerfor,acertaincause?  Do youwant to reach reporters whocould create theirown storiesforthe public? Whoevertheyare,puttheirinterestsbeforethose of more technical audiencesyoumightreach. 2. Pick your jargon wisely.Youdon’thave to include everytechnical termrelatedtothe topic– justthe onesyoucan’t avoid.If youuse a piece of jargon, immediatelyexplain it.Stuff liketitles,namesof centersand fundingdetails shouldgointolaterparagraphsor the bottom. 3. Purge passive voice.Thoughacademicscientific&medical writingbrimswithit, yours shouldnot. Evenif it makesa sentence longertomake the verbactive,doit. 4. Shortenyour sentences. Prune themintolean,meanfightingmachines.Readthemaloudtoensure they will engage someone. Readershearthe writingintheirminds asif someone wasreading itoutloud.So, too-long sentenceswill lose them.Afterasentence of 30-40 words,throw insome sentences thatare justa fewwords long. 5. Write an opening that will compel someone to keepreading.Neverunderestimatethe importance of grabbingtheirinterestandmakingthemcare enoughtokeepgoinginsteadof clickingoverto somethingelse.MAKETHEM CARE. 6. Don’t just re-tell things stepby step.You’re writingastory,not a textbookortutorial.Findanarrative – abouthowthe topictiestorecentevents,aboutthe questionorproblemathand,aboutthe obstacles& challengesinthe way,aboutthe context&controversiesinthe field,oraboutthe people involved –andgo with it. 7. Tap intoyour joy and creativity.Take the time tomake the storycome alive throughexcitingprose, humor,analogies,metaphorsandvividquotes. Thinkvisually –and eitherinclude imagesorpaintapicture with words. Askthe experttoexplainittoyouwithan analogy -- theymightsurprise you. 8. Ruthlessly edityour own writing.Betteryet,have someone else read/editit.Goback andreallyread witha critical eye. 9. Keepthe lengthdown. You can tell a greatstory in700 wordsor fewer!Use visualsto helpreduce words. 10. Don’t “recomplexify”the story inthe reviewprocess.Make sure you tell the storyin a waythat will engage ageneral audience,and invitesharingto reachthe most people possible.

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