Narrative Energy: Novelists on Why, When, and How They Write About Science

Excited to talk about Charmed Particles this weekend at the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts conference, as part of the “Narrative Energy: Novelists on Why, When, and How They Write About Science” panel, along with Laura Otis, Susan M. GainesCatherine Bush, and Edward Schwarzchild!

“Scholar and writer Laura Otis will lead a discussion with four accomplished novelists who write realistic, character-driven fiction about science. They’ll compare their inspirations and motivations, and describe doing the research for their science novels and how it differs from the research they’ve done for other novels. They will consider the unique challenges of writing such books: How do they create empathy for particularly nerdy scientist characters? Does the unfamiliarity of the scientific content influence their choices of narrative point of view? How do they construct plots that are comprised of both intellectual and emotional events? What different sorts of challenges do different fields of science present?

One of the attractions of realistic science novels is that they allow readers to experience and appreciate unfamiliar fields of scientific study. And yet, people read and value novels for their fictional stories, characters, and aesthetics. How do novelists negotiate this conundrum? In what ways do they fictionalize the science to fit their stories, and how do they rationalize this within the novels’ realistic framing? How do they create the narrative energy of their stories using abstruse scientific concepts and practices—and teach readers what they need to know to understand the story from within the story, without being didactic or condescending?”

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