Science writing workshop with Dallas Murphy

inside the classroom

It was again my pleasure to conduct, with Dr. Thomas Spengler, the annual CHESS Advanced Writing Course 25-29 June 2018.  This year we had fourteen enrollees, a range of nationalities and scientific disciplines.  We successfully confronted the near universal writing problem—the need for a logical literary structure on which clarity, the sole literary obligation for science writers, depends.

The students were avid participants, helping their peers with useful suggestions to clarify both the science and its presentation in the papers submitted to the workshop.  Furthermore, the students were quick to absorb new ideas about the means to attain structure in their subsequent papers by first composing a clear statement of their new scientific discovery before they actually begin writing any part of the paper.

playing “Kubb” on “Lit Night”

We reprised an innovation established last year, inviting individual faculty members to participate in the discussions of each student paper.  Their responses to the papers and their suggestions for improvements again proved imminently useful to the students, and it was clear that the faculty members enjoyed their participation.

Some five years ago, Thomas came up with the idea of “Lit Night.”  We carefully select several short stories that I read aloud and then we discuss as a group.  I stress repeatedly during the workshop that the very best way to learn to write is to read, but the primary purpose of Lit Night is the enjoyment of literature.  This year’s version was special.

Thanks to the spate of beautiful weather, we held Lit Night and a potluck dinner in Nordnes Park after Friday’s workshop session.  Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the evening, a memorable experience to cap a successful week.  Weather permitting, this will become a Bergen tradition.

Written by Dallas Murphy