What Your Scientist Characters Shouldn't Say, with Susan Dennard
And which sea creature would make the best writer?
From the Writing Desk:
Woohoo!!! We’ve made it November! In my opinion the three last months of the year are the three best, and I’m trying to appreciate them and enjoy them while they’re here.
In the writing world, November means one very important thing: NaNoWriMo, a communal event where people attempt to write entire 50k word novels in one month. I’ve never done it, simply because I’m too stubborn about people telling me what and how much to write (even when I’m the one telling myself!) but I think its an incredibly exciting and useful tool. So often, the major writing hangup is perfectionism, and the fear of words not being good enough stopping us from putting them down on the page in the first place. NaNoWriMo forces us past that block.
For those brave and admirable souls doing NaNoWriMo this month, here are a few helpful pieces of advice from those smarter than me:
6 Things To Know Before You Start NaNoWriMo, by
NaNoWriMo tips from the amazing literary agent
and an awesome Write-A-Long for essayists (and other writers!) from
*Some of these are paid I think and not every bit of each of these will necessarily be relevent to you and your project but hopefully it’s a good start to get you going and keep you motivated!
This month I got to do a signing at my local barnes and noble that ended up being so much more fun and successful than I expected, some in person and virtual school visits which are always just as incredible and wonderful and fulfilling as I always know they will be, and we're moving in to copyedits on the next spooky book coming out next year, so all around, going pretty great!
It was also so much fun to have a spooky book to talk about in October. Again and again forever, thank you all so much for your kind words and support. I’m gonna be obnoxious and ask again if you wouldn’t mind leaving a quick 1 or 2 sentence review on Amazon? The algorithm gods track these things and its honestly one of the most helpful things you can do for a writer. THANK YOU!
3 Questions About Writing Science and Scientists, with Susan Dennard:
I am so incredibly stoked and utterly honored to haveanswer a few questions for us today! Susan Dennard is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of the Witchlands series (now in development for TV from the Jim Henson Company), and the Something Strange and Deadly series, in addition to various other fiction published online.
Before becoming an author, she got to travel the world with her M.Sc. in marine biology, so I’m really excited to get her unique science + fiction blend of expertise! She writes the hugely popular and even more hugely helpful writing newsletter Misfits & Daydreamers. Her book The Hunting Moon, the second book in her Luminaries trilogy, comes out on Tuesday (Nov. 7!) so you still have time to preorder!
Thank you so much for joining us!
1-Did your career as a marine biologist influence your prose on a sentence level? How so?
Of course it does. All the time. It's my unique lens on the world. The things I notice at any given moment will be shaped by my background, and that in turn shapes what I write. This is especially obvious in my scientifically-minded characters like Winnie Wednesday frin The Luminaries. She's a budding nightmare biologist, so every scene is written with that special viewpoint and language.
2-What have you noticed writers most often get wrong when representing scientists and the scientific process?
Oh boy, where to begin? One of my biggest pet peeves is just how people in everyday life speak about science--using "prove" or "disprove" as if that's what scientists do. In reality, scientic language is much more cautious than that. We're looking for statistically significant relationships (or lack thereof) between variables, observations, groups, etc. So while we might say "the relationship between kelpie birthrates to mist time for different Luminary forests across the world was statistically significant" (lol, had to throw in a Luminary reference), we would never say "we've proven that more mist means more kelpie births."
3-What sea creature would make the best writer and why?
None. They don't have opposable thumbs.
Lol, just kidding. Maybe an octopus because they've got so many limbs for faster typing?
Thank you so muchfor your expertise! You can learn more about Susan and her books on her website. And remember, don’t forget to preorder her upcoming book, The Hunting Moon!
What I’m Reading: Maybe it’s the coming out of craziness, but I’ve been gravitating towards younger and sillier and whimsier reads lately. In other words, Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake was absolute perfection. And if you haven’t read her Newbery award winning One Came Home, check that out too. And honestly, anything illustrated by Jon Klassen is automatically going to be brilliant.
What I’m Watching: Gonna recommend an old favorite this month. Because it’s a time to be grateful for the good things we have in our lives, right? And one of the goodest things I’ve ever watched is the 2004 BBC adaptation of North and South, starting Anna Maxwell Martin and Richard Armitage (mmmmm). It’s an appropriately Novembery watch. Find it on Prime, free with BritBox free trial!
Happy Halloween, Dear: We’re a couple days past Halloween now, but if stores can start playing Christmas music on November 1, I can play some lil Halloween carols on November 2nd.
What I’m Drawing: This lil comic inspired by the wisdom of my friend Ally Malinenko. If you haven’t checked out her spooky books for kids, do it now!
Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.
Writing Opportunity: ASK, the nonfiction magazine for kids is looking for science articles! Deadline Nov. 30!
Teacher or Librarian? I would love to do a free virtual Q&A with your class or book group! If you’re interested in scheduling a visit you can reach out to me via my website. Let me know how I can support you! I’ve also got free classroom resources to accompany each book. You guys are rock stars!
Thanks for coming along everyone! I’d be honored if you forwarded this to anyone you thought might find it useful. Onward!
Thanks for reading!