Books By Bonnye

Science Writing, my Genre to this Point

Science writing? Shouldn’t that be scientific writing? No. There is a difference. Scientific writing has been around for eons. It’s how scientists communicate among themselves, usually in peer reviewed journals. Science writing is writing about science for a popular audience. It can be aimed at an adult or younger readers who like to follow science. Types of science writing of this nature might be found in National Geographic or Scientific American. You won’t find scientific jargon used heavily in this writing. Science writing is also for children. My middle-grade Arctic Dinosaurs of Alaska is a younger age approach to Arctic dinosaurs. It contains fiction about the lives of these dinosaurs through a year in the far north part of Alaska 70 million years ago on land that has little resemblance to what we know today. The story is nested in nonfiction where young readers learn about the discovery of dinosaurs in Alaska, what’s fact and fiction in the story, law and dinosaur fossils on public lands, and much more. People have mentioned that Arctic Dinosaurs of Alaska is a disguised text book. Science writing goes all the way in age back to young children.

I had thought for years that all my books deal with different genres, but I realized that they are actually all the same, only in the genre of science writing. The subjects are widely divergent. I knew my novel series of five books was a little different with a twenty-some page bibliography. The bibliography is there because the genre is science writing. As a group of kindred writers, we came up with prehistoric fiction as our genre. Science writing wasn’t even a possibility then. And, technically, you could have prehistoric fiction serve as a distinct category from science writing, were science not the overarching focus of the book. The solution there is whether the writer wants the story to be super scientifically based or just a super good story, though it can be both. Does the writer see him- or herself as a storyteller or a writer who can put lots of scientific fact in a story? Are you a writer or scientist? You can be both, but one tends to be primary. When you want to mention what prehistoric people ate for dinner, do you go to the palynology journals searching for seeds found in a specific place during such and such a time period, or do you just vaguely describe the food and let it go at that? If you search palynology journals for pollen grains or spores associated with an archaeological site, geological site, or general area, you’re more likely a science writer than a fiction author—more a scientist than an artist.

This opened up a wide area of understanding to me. I’d been a science writer for a long time. What opened my eyes was my launch of Arctic Dinosaurs of Alaska in August 2022. I realized I felt far more “at home” in the museum where the launch took place than in a bookstore. It was an eye-opening event. I made no sense of the genres in which I write until I saw mention of science writing. Suddenly I understood. It made sense of my deep interest in science in high school. I participated in science fairs and have two first place medals from those events. It was fun and it held my attention. It also was rewarding.

I had always excelled in science and math when tested. I went to college and chose to become a teacher of English. My degree, though, is a BS in English and Education.  What’s an English teacher doing with a BS degree? It could be requirements or interests along the way, but that’s what it was and is. But it shows the same mixture. I majored in English to broaden my skills, not hone math and science where I already tested well. Don’t get me wrong. My English tests were not bad or even average, but I wanted to round out myself. I figured my GRE scores would give me an idea of whether I succeeded. Nope. That was dismal and I went around in a fog. The head of the English Department, my advisor, called me over to discuss my GRE scores. I was embarrassed. He suggested I was crazy. He was very well pleased with my English results. I thought my rounding myself out was a sure-fire failure. I could not see with his eyes.

And now, at this winter time of my life, I finally get it. I am more scientist than artist—always have been. That’s just how it is. I cannot change it any more than I can make myself tall. What is—is. And now there’s a genre for me. What I write doesn’t not fit, it just had to wait until my genre raised its head and announced it exists. I had heard that most people stick to a single genre. It looked to me as if I had five: health, prehistoric fiction, how to, middle grade fiction, and spiritual in process. Not so. It’s all one genre—science writing, except for the how to and spiritual books. I like thinning that out a lot!

I am adding another genre. My current work is Sanctuary: In His Pocket. It’s an apologia/inspirational memoir. It’s the flip side of me. A side I know and almost no one else who knows me knows. It’s time to let it out. And in no way is it science writing. This time it’s spiritual writing. It exists now as 224 pages, single-spaced, 81,269 words. I have the first draft of 5 sections with 2 more to go. This is a true shift of gears. It’s hard. The most difficult anything I ever wrote. It’s not penned by a scientist or an artist. It comes from spiritual experience. It’s spiritual writing.

Science writing? Shouldn’t that be scientific writing? No. There is a difference. Scientific writing has been around for eons. It’s how scientists communicate among themselves, usually in peer reviewed journals. Science writing is writing about science for a popular audience. It can be aimed at an adult or younger readers who like to follow science. Types of science writing of this nature might be found in National Geographic or Scientific American. You won’t find scientific jargon used heavily in this writing. Science writing is also for children. My middle-grade Arctic Dinosaurs of Alaska is a younger age approach to Arctic dinosaurs. It contains fiction about the lives of these dinosaurs through a year in the far north part of Alaska 70 million years ago on land that has little resemblance to what we know today. The story is nested in nonfiction where young readers learn about the discovery of dinosaurs in Alaska, what’s fact and fiction in the story, law and dinosaur fossils on public lands, and much more. People have mentioned that Arctic Dinosaurs of Alaska is a disguised text book. Science writing goes all the way in age back to young children.

I had thought for years that all my books deal with different genres, but I realized that they are actually all the same, only in the genre of science writing. The subjects are widely divergent. I knew my novel series of five books was a little different with a twenty-some page bibliography. The bibliography is there because the genre is science writing. As a group of kindred writers, we came up with prehistoric fiction as our genre. Science writing wasn’t even a possibility then. And, technically, you could have prehistoric fiction serve as a distinct category from science writing, were science not the overarching focus of the book. The solution there is whether the writer wants the story to be super scientifically based or just a super good story, though it can be both. Does the writer see him- or herself as a storyteller or a writer who can put lots of scientific fact in a story? Are you a writer or scientist? You can be both, but one tends to be primary. When you want to mention what prehistoric people ate for dinner, do you go to the palynology journals searching for seeds found in a specific place during such and such a time period, or do you just vaguely describe the food and let it go at that? If you search palynology journals for pollen grains or spores associated with an archaeological site, geological site, or general area, you’re more likely a science writer than a fiction author—more a scientist than an artist.

This opened up a wide area of understanding to me. I’d been a science writer for a long time. What opened my eyes was my launch of Arctic Dinosaurs of Alaska in August 2022. I realized I felt far more “at home” in the museum where the launch took place than in a bookstore. It was an eye-opening event. I made no sense of the genres in which I write until I saw mention of science writing. Suddenly I understood. It made sense of my deep interest in science in high school. I participated in science fairs and have two first place medals from those events. It was fun and it held my attention. It also was rewarding.

I had always excelled in science and math when tested. I went to college and chose to become a teacher of English. My degree, though, is a BS in English and Education.  What’s an English teacher doing with a BS degree? It could be requirements or interests along the way, but that’s what it was and is. But it shows the same mixture. I majored in English to broaden my skills, not hone math and science where I already tested well. Don’t get me wrong. My English tests were not bad or even average, but I wanted to round out myself. I figured my GRE scores would give me an idea of whether I succeeded. Nope. That was dismal and I went around in a fog. The head of the English Department, my advisor, called me over to discuss my GRE scores. I was embarrassed. He suggested I was crazy. He was very well pleased with my English results. I thought my rounding myself out was a sure-fire failure. I could not see with his eyes.

And now, at this winter time of my life, I finally get it. I am more scientist than artist—always have been. That’s just how it is. I cannot change it any more than I can make myself tall. What is—is. And now there’s a genre for me. What I write doesn’t not fit, it just had to wait until my genre raised its head and announced it exists. I had heard that most people stick to a single genre. It looked to me as if I had five: health, prehistoric fiction, how to, middle grade fiction, and spiritual in process. Not so. It’s all one genre—science writing, except for the how to and spiritual books. I like thinning that out a lot!

I am adding another genre. My current work is Sanctuary: In His Pocket. It’s an apologia/inspirational memoir. It’s the flip side of me. A side I know and almost no one else who knows me knows. It’s time to let it out. And in no way is it science writing. This time it’s spiritual writing. It exists now as 224 pages, single-spaced, 81,269 words. I have the first draft of 5 sections with 2 more to go. This is a true shift of gears. It’s hard. The most difficult anything I ever wrote. It’s not penned by a scientist or an artist. It comes from spiritual experience. It’s spiritual writing.

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