1. Eliemme
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    Eliemme Member

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    From scientific writing to creative writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Eliemme, Apr 1, 2013.

    Hi all,

    I am new to the forum and fairly new to creative writing.

    Yet, I am not new to writing as such. I am a social scientists, and crafting of a good piece is one of my favourite parts of the job. I like the concentration it takes and the rewards it brings.

    I was wondering whether anyone had some experiences and suggestions to share about going from scientific to non-scientific writing.
    Many thanks
     
  2. doghouse
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    doghouse Member

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    Don't be afraid to break the rules. *grins*

    Get feedback on your creative writing, and take it from there.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    just start reading more creative writing than scientific... or at least as much...
     
  4. squishytheduck
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    squishytheduck Senior Member

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    Yes, I have a lot of experience with this.

    The two are similar in that writing is writing and any kind of writing is good practice for future writing, whatever that may be. It's also similar in that you want to be as precise (and often concise) with your language as possible. I haven't published anything creatively, but from what I have read, submitting manuscripts to literary journals is as much of a pain as submitting to scientific journals, and the publisher/agent query and negotiations are akin to grant proposals.

    A huge difference for me is that in scientific writing, you want to be as dry as you can, make it all about the data. You as an author are to be as far removed from the content as possible, because you are simply taking not of your observations as a disinterested, logical examiner of the facts. In creative writing, especially fiction, you want to put yourself into the writing. It is a much more personal, emotive process and you actual want to have your voice be a prominent part of your work. Creative writing is about execution more too.

    What else you want to know?
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    For years before I joined this forum, nearly all of my writing was scientific or technical. The best thing to retain from that kind of writing is an ability to organize and attend to details. But the biggest transition is learning to relax and let your imagination roam.

    Read plenty of fiction, and see how breaking, or at least bending, the formal rules can make the story flow better. Paragraphs need not be as rigidly organized as in more formal types of writing. Sentence fragments are actually valuable when used judiciously.

    And then there is dialogue. It's practically an art form in itself, one which few writers truly master.

    Take up people-watching, But don't hang around schools and public playgrounds - that kind of people-watching is usually viewed harshly!
     
  6. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    I may have to disagree here.. and William Zinsser most definitely would, as well. Who says it has to be dry? I've read plenty of objective essays which are anything but dry. TO The OP: I'd suggest picking up Zinsser's book On Writing Well--he has a few chapters dedicated to science and technical writing that you may find incredibly insightful. The whole book deals with non-fiction. Hope this helps.
     
  7. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Start with reading a lot of fiction--deconstruct what you read: see how one writer approaches a particular type of scene compared to how another writer would handle the same type of scene. Just as sentences are the building blocks of paragraphs, paragraphs are the building blocks of scenes; and scenes are the building blocks of chapters.
     
  8. squishytheduck
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    squishytheduck Senior Member

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    Oh, I wasn't talking about science journalism. I meant research articles. Grant proposals. Dissertations.

    As to creative writing, I recommend the essay "Letter to a Young Writer" by Richard Bausch.
     
  9. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    Ahh.. My bad.
     
  10. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think this was well put. For me it was the opposite process (and still is). Research = dry and distant, impersonal. Fiction = your own voice is clear, you get up close and personal, and there're basically no limits as long as you keep the grammar more or less in check.

    Some technical things are similarly important, like a good, clear structure. On the other hand, while passive voice is fairly prominent in scientific writing, you'd want to favor active in fiction.
     
  11. squishytheduck
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    squishytheduck Senior Member

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    Thanks, K:)

    @OP: this is an excellent point.
     

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