A Smorgasbord of Writing Pointers with a Side of Wit
Edge blogger, Dr. Lucile Wrenshall, MD, PhD, Professor at Wright State University, has produced a prodigious series of blogs with practical and entertaining writing advice. Whether focused on your own writing, mentoring, or teaching scientific writing, it’s a treasure trove. Covering insights for grants, manuscripts, and plain language, she highlights style pointers and common mistakes. We’ve rounded up the posts so you can select from the full menu:
The beginner’s eye is observing as if you’ve never seen something before. What if you reviewed the last several months of experiments as if you’ve never encountered them — with no a priori hypotheses, no preconceived ideas about meaning, just a clean slate and a basic understanding of the science (hey, that sounds like a reviewer!).
Have you thought of a grant proposal as a story with a cast of characters? For a reviewer, even those in your field, getting a grip on your characters is like going to a family reunion where you don’t know most of the people. The onus is on you to set the stage for each of your characters. A sudden appearance of molecule “Janet” will confuse the reviewer and break the flow of the grant.
3. Big Words
What difference does it make? Big words, little words, “just right” words, who cares? You do — if writing to be understood. A reader may actually need to understand what is meant by “the inebriated stripling inadvertently micturated” (see essay for translation). Don’t leave comprehension to chance.
Adverb: a word (usually ending in -ly) that modifies a verb. Scientists appear to have a favorite, according to a little bit of literary sleuthing. Sorry, no spoilers. Read on to see if you overuse this adverb, too.
Visit drlucywrenshall.com for more on grant writing, manuscripts, and 1:1 writing help.