Friday, January 11, 2013

What Do Science and Novel Writing Have in Common?


Many Americans consider science to be collection of boring facts, as dry as the stuffed animals and bones in natural history museums. That’s an unfortunate misconception, which probably reflects poorly taught classes in school.

Science should be thought of as a verb not a noun. Science is the collecting of information on the natural world in an organized and systematic way and the applying the accumulated knowledge to solve problems or test hypotheses.

Aha, you say. That definition of science sounds a bit like crime solving and mystery writing, actually novel writing in general.

Writing is a lot like doing a science experiment.
1. Writers and scientists make observations. (Granted scientists try to quantitate their observations more than writers.) 

2. They organize their observations into a whole (i.e. writers develop plot; scientists – hypotheses).

3. They test and refine their “whole,” (i.e. writers edit their prose; scientists run experiments.)

Science and writing both require a lot of hard work to gain occasional flashes of insights. To paraphrase Thomas Edison, they’re  “one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

Science and writing are both dynamic. Both, when well done, generate further thought. So, I think our society needs more of both.

JL Greger
Oak Tree Press will be publishing my new medical mystery Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight in March 2013.