Subatomic Writing: Six Fundamental Lessons to Make Language Matter

Subatomic Writing: Six Fundamental Lessons to Make Language Matter

by Jamie Zvirzdin
Subatomic Writing: Six Fundamental Lessons to Make Language Matter

Subatomic Writing: Six Fundamental Lessons to Make Language Matter

by Jamie Zvirzdin


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See science writing fundamentals afresh through a subatomic lens!

In Subatomic Writing, Johns Hopkins University instructor Jamie Zvirzdin goes bravely into uncharted territory by offering a totally new kind of guide for writing about science—from the subatomic level up! Subatomic Writing teaches readers that the building blocks of language are like particles in physics. These particles, combined and arranged, form something greater than their parts: all matter in the literary universe. The six levels of language covered in this guide create writing that illuminates and energizes the reader to feel, learn, change, and act. This interdisciplinary approach helps scientists, science writers, and editors improve their writing in fundamental areas as they build from the sounds in a word to the pacing of a paragraph. These areas include

• Sound and sense
• Word classes
• Grammar and syntax
• Punctuation
• Rhythm and emphasis
• Pacing and coherence

Equally helpful for students who need to learn how to write clearly about science and scientists who need to hone their writing skills to create more effective course material, papers, and grant applications, this guide builds confidence in writing abilities as old skills are taught in new, exciting ways. Each lesson provides exercises that build on each other, strengthening readers' capacity to communicate ideas and data, all while learning basic particle physics along the way.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421446127
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 02/21/2023
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Jamie Zvirzdin (OLNEY, MD) teaches science writing at Johns Hopkins University and researches ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays for the University of Utah. Her writing has been featured in The Atlantic, Kenyon Review, and Issues in Science and Technology.

Table of Contents

Praise for Subatomic Writing
Introduction: Unhallowed Origins
Lesson I: Harvest Vibrations
Lesson II: Nest Word Classes
Lesson III: See the Syntax
Lesson IV: Pause, Link, Tighten
Lesson V: Feel the Pulse
Lesson VI: Connect the Dots
Connect the Dots
Appendix A: More on Sentence Diagrams
Ideas for Using Subatomic Writing in the Classroom

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Jamie Zvirzdin has written a quirky, quarky, marvelously helpful, relentlessly readable guide to effective science communication. Like particle physics, grammar and good writing are, at their core, a system of rules and relationships. Master these and the universe is yours!
—Mary Roach, author of Fuzz and Stiff

Metaphor is both the food of science and the spice of language. Jamie Zvirzdin links principles of physics with those of grammar and linguistics, adds a pinch of poetics, and serves up a tasty guide to scientific thinking and writing.
—Christopher Joyce, Correspondent, Science Desk, NPR

Subatomic Writing—Jamie Zvirzdin's innovative guide to telling stories of science—uses particle physics, demons, science history, family life, and a terrific sense of humor to make its points. The result is smart, effective, and a whole lot of fun.
—Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize–winning science writer, director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT, and founder of Undark Magazine

By equating the fundamental particles of the Standard Model to elements of writing, Zvirzdin has created an engaging book that teaches the mechanics of science writing. Her novel approach, interspersed with fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, is both valuable and refreshing. It is a book all scientists should have on hand.
—Steven C. Martin, senior programmer at NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center

Inspired! Subatomic Writing provides an insightful and helpful new doorway into the foundations of language and writing, all wrapped up in some imaginative fun.
—Mignon Fogarty, author of the New York Times bestseller Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

This is a fantastic writing resource for people like me, people whose first language isn't English. As a guide, the book develops your writing skills, but it also tells a story, which helps you walk through the harder parts of English step by step. Easy to read, informative, and entertaining!
—Jihee Kim, Argonne National Laboratory

Jamie Zvirzdin's brilliant, engaging writing guide, Subatomic Writing, is ostensibly here to help those who write about science, but her clear explanations, practical lessons, and gift for metaphor will help anyone struggling to assemble words into coherent strands. Who knew that the building blocks of language shared so much with particle physics? A wonderfully unique guide to vibrant writing.
—Dinty W. Moore, author of The Mindful Writer and founder of Brevity Magazine

Forget your preconceptions of what a book about grammar and writing is like. This is a wild ride, entertaining, enlightening, practical, and hands-on. Plus you'll learn some particle physics to boot! Zvirzdin's enthusiasm for clarity, conciseness, and vibrancy in science writing is contagious.
—Pierre Sokolsky, Dean Emeritus of the University of Utah College of Science, Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy, and author of Introduction to Ultrahigh Energy Cosmic Ray Physics

Writing, as you may have heard, is not rocket science. In fact, it's particle physics, as Jamie Zvirzdin demonstrates in Subatomic Writing, her insightful new guide for the nerdy-minded scribe.
—Dava Sobel, author of Longitude, Galileo's Daughter, and, most recently, The Glass Universe

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