Science writing workshop with Dallas Murphy, 10-14 June 2024

 This, the 13th annual Science Writing Workshop, was tinged with melancholy, it being the final under the aegis of that brilliant accomplishment called CHESS.

Thirteen writers participated. With the assistance of generous faculty attendees, we rigorously discussed each writer’s submitted titles, abstracts, introductions, and concluding matter in 1.5-hour sessions Monday through Friday morning. As usual, we devoted the bulk of each session to the science itself, asking, “Is the new scientific accomplishment and the gap in present knowledge it fills clearly stated?” This is, after all, the essence of a science paper, and the place where most writing/thinking problems occur. We devoted the remainder of Friday to discussion of selected rewrites.

This was a particularly avid and open-minded group. They actively participated in discussions of their colleagues’ work, contributing significantly to improving clarity and economy of language. It was most gratifying to recognize that by the end of this intense week they were thinking like writers. It was my pleasure to work with them.

On a beautiful Thursday evening we held our annual “Lit Night,” and pot luck dinner in Nordnes Park, during which I read aloud three short stories, and discussed how the writers use the tools of the genre to make meaning. And we talked about how this very different form of literature relates to science writing. It remains a memorable evening

With that twinge of melancholy, Dallas Murphy

All photos: Thomas Spengler