Here are some notes gathered at the Inspiring Australia conference on how to write good science stories. This is all about public relations and writing a good media release. There wasn’t much about creating a narrative, or fact-based fiction work, or creative non-fiction. If anyone can recommend a good source for that stuff I’d love to hear it (leave a comment.
– What’s the impact. Find an analogy – don’t say megawatts, say how many homes you can power. People get that.
– Modern western media is about conflict modelling. For example, with climate change there really is no scientific debate that it is happening, but an editor will say “that sounds great, find me someone who disagrees.”
– Use drama if possible. Don’t exaggerate it, but if something is truly exciting or dangerous, recognise it. You can tell a story, but still be credible.
– Ask yourself: What is the story and why am I telling it? Who will hear the story? What are the tools I have to tell the story and how will I use them?
– You need a GREAT story if you’re going to tell it, then you need to work out how to connect it to the audience. We’ve all been to very good factual presentations that bored us to death. You have to get entertainment in somehow.
– Science communicators are very verbose, and sometimes over-explain things. Use more silence and reflection time.
Oh, how sad. I thought telling a good science story would be about telling a good science story! Storytelling is *the* way we process the world around us, it’s how we remember things, and it’s what prompts us to share. Give me a good story over a professional press release any day.