This year at the Brisbane Writers Festival there were a number of sessions centred around the discussion of science and its communication to the public.
I am not a scientist. My background in the field finishes at high school and picks up again with the not-so-factual field of science fiction.
But I love science. I would much rather read about the latest development in the lab than what’s happening in Hollywood.
One of my favourite science communicators Dr Karl Kruszelnicki gave his usual energetic presentation of facts interspersed with some excellent tips for writers. His crusade, he says, is to fight the forces of ignorance. To liberate people from what holds them back. This is the very reason I want to write about science despite my lacking background.
The approach is simple. You need to be able to tell your idea to the slightly inebriated guy at the pub. If he is still interested, you have a story.
Quirky stories are best – as the media tend to only be interested in breakthroughs or weird science – and this is where you can sneak in some informative material.
However he warned against perpetuating incorrect or misinformed sources. Google Scholar is the bible. If you can’t go to the original source, don’t write the story. It is also a good idea to wait for experts to respond to the findings; peer review is crucial.
Dr Karl’s story formula:
Say something amazing.
Follow with the punchline.