Northern California Science Writers Association

Show and Tell: How to build stories with scenes and voice

  • Saturday, March 04, 2017
  • 8:30 AM - 12:00 PM
  • U.C. Berkeley School of Journalism, North Gate Hall @ corner of Hearst & Euclid
  • 0


  • (Members only; no guests)

Registration is closed

“Show, don’t tell” is one of the most familiar pieces of writerly advice—but for science writers, telling can be just as important as showing. And combining these two techniques can make your stories more memorable and persuasive.

In this half-day workshop, you’ll analyze the anatomy of compelling science stories to see how reported scenes (“showing”) and the writer’s voice (“telling”) can be used in concert to enhance storytelling. You'll also learn how showing and telling can be used to build all kinds of stories, from features to news pieces to blog posts. 

In addition, you'll also get tips on how to choose and report scenes, both in the field and on the phone, as well as on the different ways voice can enhance reported scenes.

And you'll learn practical ways to develop or strengthen your own writing voice, and to decide when to use it—and when not to.

Whatever you write and wherever you are in your career, developing your writing voice—and knowing how to use it effectively—will enrich and enliven your work.


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.

Note: Michelle taught a NCSWA workshop called The Art of the Science Essay last year, which sold out in a week and got rave reviews.

PREPARATION: Michelle will send participants examples of "show and tell" science stories to read before the workshop.

LOCATION: The workshop will be at the UC Berkeley School of Journalism, which is in North Gate Hall near the intersection of Hearst Ave. and Euclid Ave. We will meet in the library. It's a 0.8 mile walk from the Berkeley BART Station; pay parking is available in the Upper Hearst Parking Structure on Hearst Ave. near La Loma Ave; and free street parking with no time limit on the weekend is available several blocks north of campus—check the signs carefully; some say 2-hour parking in large font and except for Saturdays, Sundays and holidays in small font.


8:30 am - 9:00 am: Registration

9:00 am – noon: Workshop

COST: $30

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

REGISTRATION: Spots are limited to 40 [updated], offered on a first-come, first-served basis. The deadline for registration is February 17, 2017 at midnight.

REFUND POLICY: Cancellations during the registration period will be credited toward future NCSWA events; no credits will be issued after registration closes.

CONTACT: Robin Meadows, NCSWA Professional Development Committee co-chair.

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