Picture Books and Technical Papers

So I am a couple of weeks into a Grad. Dip. (Professional Writing) at University of Canberra…  My focus is on editing, which means one of my subjects is called Writing For Young People (?).

H in my alphabet.

H in my alphabet.

So far we’ve worked on ABC books, picture books, and children’s poems.

It’s a long way from diffuse scattering from organic molecular crystals, at least at first glance.  Writing for scientists who have PhDs and kids who can’t read is not as different as one might think.  The lecturer (Tony Eaton) has been very clear that in a picture book the words must not simply recapitulate the pictures, and that there needs to be a strong focus on the story and a willingness to pare away unnecessary detail, and to rephrase for clarity, and to collaborate and if necessary let the collaborator (illustrator, in the case of a picture book) represent ‘your’ ideas in ways you did not expect, and perhaps don’t even agree with; you need to be able to let go of the work.

When writing a paper I do expend some words drawing out the meaning of the figures, so there is a difference there, but the other exhortations do apply.  Precision is important.  Also, in both cases it helps to look at the work from a point of view not your own to make sure you have explained enough, but not too much.  And in science it is good to be dispassionate enough to let a collaborator reinterpret some data, criticise the reasoning, represent data in a different manner.  Both forms combine pictures and words in an attempt to be efficient and clear in their communication.

O is for ooze.

O is for ooze.

(I considered titling this posting ‘Blogger makes tenuous linkages in order to generate blog post’, but that applies to most of my entries anyway.)



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About Darren

I'm a scientist by training, based in Australia.

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