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Ideas into Words

, 176 pages
May 2003



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Ideas into Words

Mastering the Craft of Science Writing

"I am so proud to be Elise's student. Read this book and I suspect you will be too."—from the foreword by Robert Kanigel, author of The Man Who Knew Infinity

From the latest breakthroughs in medical research and information technologies to new discoveries about the diversity of life on earth, science is becoming both more specialized and more relevant. Consequently, the need for writers who can clarify these breakthroughs and discoveries for the general public has become acute.

In Ideas into Words, Elise Hancock, a professional writer and editor with thirty years of experience, provides both novice and seasoned science writers with the practical advice and canny insights they need to take their craft to the next level. Rich with real-life examples and anecdotes, this book covers the essentials of science writing: finding story ideas, learning the science, opening and shaping a piece, polishing drafts, overcoming blocks, and conducting interviews with scientists and other experts who may not be accustomed to making their ideas understandable to lay readers.

Hancock's wisdom will prove useful to anyone pursuing nonfiction writing as a career. She devotes an entire chapter to habits and attitudes that writers should cultivate, another to structure, and a third to the art of revision. Some of her advice is surprising (she cautions against slavish use of transitions, for example); all of it is hard-earned, astute, and wittily conveyed. This concise guide is essential reading for every writer attempting to explain the world of science to the rest of us.

Elise Hancock is a science writer and former editor of the Johns Hopkins Magazine

"This is a slim book, but it contains a wealth of information. The author, a veteran science writer, tells us pretty much everything we need to know about her demanding field... Smartly written and constructed, the book is absolutely essential to someone looking to enter this very tough, competitive field."

"Rich with real-life examples and anecdotes, the book covers the essentials... Hancock urges writers to overcome any intimidation they may have in covering the sciences. Then, she helps them hone their skills to make stories clear and compelling."

" Ideas into Words enables the reader to BE a writer and to DO science writing."

"In Ideas into Words, Elise Hancock has managed to write a guide to science writing that is not only comprehensive—she answers every question I could have imagined asking and then some—but also wise, vivid, and an awful lot of fun. I wish I'd had something like this to help me when I was starting out."

"Elise Hancock's excitement is infectious. One puts her book down and feels drawn to a keyboard."

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