Dear Science Bloggers (Self, You Too):
Stop burying your leads.
Ledes. Leads. Whatever. Your opening line – the one that draws you in to a story, that limns the scope of your writing while providing the so what. It belongs at the beginning and you are placing it two or three paragraphs deep into your entry.
I tell you this, because after a month or so of mostly ignoring the blogosphere (not for any particularly interesting reason) and buzzing through some John McPhee and Natalie Angier books instead, my expectations for writing have been reset. I also tell you this because I have just finished triage on a whole bunch of submissions for this year’s Open Laboratory science blogging anthology.
Run-on sentences of the form “I was reading DoucheNozzle, who linked to Monkeytastic asking whether Churro-on-Squid was misreading Foo Blog’s subtle point about zombie pirates” serve a valuable social purpose – who doesn’t want that backlink from Churro-on-Squid? – but they are hell on your readers. Interestingly, the social motives of academics are similar to those of bloggers – i.e., if you don’t properly situate your own work in the context of an ongoing discourse, you are irrelevant. But scientific articles at least have the decency to hide those particular paragraphs near the end of the introduction instead of at the beginning.
Gleaning valuable writing tips from the scientific literature? Yes! It can happen!
Love and snuggles,
(who promises to bury the lead on her very next post, which she will write soon, she swears)