Northern California Science Writers Association

NCSWA WORKSHOP: The Art of the Science Essay

  • Saturday, February 20, 2016
  • 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Ed Roberts Campus, Ashby BART Station, Berkeley
  • 0


Registration is closed

Take your writing to the next level by learning the art of the science essay. No matter what kind of science writer you are, strong essay-writing skills can help you charm, persuade, and capture the attention of your readers—and your editors.

In the first part of the workshop, through examples of compelling science essays past and present, you’ll learn how to recognize essay ideas, how to report for the essay form, and how to organize your ideas before you write. You’ll learn how to develop a distinctive authorial voice, and how to apply your essay-writing skills to stories of all kinds, from longform narrative to social media posts.

In the second part of the workshop,  you’ll have the opportunity to informally pitch and develop your own essay ideas. You’ll also learn the ethics of personal essays, and how and where to get your essays published.

Whether you write features, news, explainers, profiles or shorts, this workshop will give you new tools to bring out the best in your writing.

INSTRUCTOR: Michelle Nijhuis is the co-editor of The Science Writers’ Handbook and the author of the brand-new Science Writers’ Essay Handbook. She is a regular contributor to National Geographic, The New Yorker’s science-and-tech blog Elements, and other publications, and she is also the longtime editor of the essay section of High Country News, an award-winning magazine known for its coverage of science and natural resource issues in the American West. Her reported essays and feature stories—which examine subjects ranging from caviar smuggling in the Ozarks to life off the electrical grid to the possibility that Bilbo Baggins is a girl—have been recognized with several national awards and included in three Best American anthologies. You can learn more about her here.

PREPARATION: Michelle will send participants essays to read before the workshop.

DATE: Saturday, February 20, 2016.

LOCATION: The workshop will be at the Ed Roberts Campus at the Ashby BART Station in South Berkeley. The address is 3075 Adeline St., Berkeley, and we will meet in the Koret Foundation Board Room on the second floor. 


8:30 am - 9:00 am: Registration

9:00 am - noon: Workshop

Note: Doors open at 8:00 am and you are welcome to come early if you’d like to help set up the room. The venue generally does not do this for us and we would greatly appreciate your help! We also have to clean the room afterwards and would appreciate your help with that too.

FOOD: Coffee, tea, fruit and bagels during registration. Please bring your own water.

COST: $30

Note: To make this workshop accessible to as many of our members as possible, NCSWA is providing a generous subsidy.

REGISTRATION: This workshop is limited to 30 people, offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Secure your spot early! The deadline for registration is Feb. 5, 2016, at midnight.

CONTACT: Robin Meadows,

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