1998 Santa Fe Science-Writing Workshop


Tuesday, June 30

3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Registration at Plaza Resolana. Pick up room key and other information at front desk.

5:00 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. Wine and cheese reception at Plaza Resolana. Meet the students and instructors.

6:30 p.m. "A Journalist's Adventures in Antarctica (and on 43rd Street)." Cory Dean on her January visit to the South Pole.

7:30 p.m. Explore the Plaza; forage for dinner.

Wednesday, July 1

7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. Breakfast at Plaza Resolana. Commuters need to arrive by 8 to prepare box lunches for trip to the Santa Fe Institute.

8:30 a.m. Meet in front of Plaza Resolana for ride to Santa Fe Institute.

9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Beginning students will hear talks by two scientists whose interdisciplinary work exemplifies the spirit of the Santa Fe Institute (where both are external faculty members): Geoffrey West, a Los Alamos National Laboratory physicist, and John Padgett, a University of Chicago political scientist. Both study how simple units (be they stars in a galaxy, cells in an organism, or people in a political state) interact to form complex systems. West recently collaborated on a new model explaining how biological organisms arrange themselves into tree-like patterns -- circulatory systems, for example. Padgett is studying how the first city-states emerged in Renaissance Florence. Question-and-answer sessions will follow.

People in the beginning track will use this press conference as the basis for their writing assignments. Students in the advanced track can skip the press conference and meet instead with Cory Dean, science editor of The New York Times, for career advice. Or they can sit in on the conference and enjoy the show.

11:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Box lunch on portal of Santa Fe Institute. Beginning students will use this time to meet en masse with their instructors and discuss the morning's sessions and the mechanics of turning the talks into good stories. (The writing assignments -- a good, strong introduction and an outline -- will be critiqued in individual sessions beginning Saturday morning.)

2 p.m. Return to Plaza Resolana.

2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Students in the advanced track will meet as a group with their instructors to begin discussing the writing samples they have submitted. Beginning students can start working on their writing assignments.

Everyone will have the rest of the day to wander around the Plaza and eat dinner.

Thursday, July 2

7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. Breakfast at Plaza Resolana.

8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. "The Story of a Story." Rick Weiss and George Johnson. Using an overhead projector, Weiss and Johnson will each deconstruct one of their own stories, recreating the saga of how it came to be: the source of the idea, the strategic details of researching and writing, the give-and-take of the editing process, et cetera.

11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m."The End of Science Writing." Jon Franklin. The discussion will pick up from a provocative talk Jon gave last year at the University of Tennessee. Please read it on the Web and start thinking about the issues.

12 noon to 1:15 p.m. Lunch at Plaza Resolana.

1:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. "Inside The Washington Post." Rick Weiss on what it is like to cover bioethics for Washington's premier newspaper. The inherent difficulties of mixing one's coverage of facts (the science) and opinions (the ethics).

2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. "The Love-Hate Relationship Between Scientists and Science-Writers." Natalie Angier, Rick Weiss, Jon Franklin. All science writers soon learn that a few of their subjects disdain the art of popularization. How do you deal with these people? How much of the problem is our own fault?

3:45 p.m. to 5 p.m. "The Art and Craft of Feature Writing." Natalie Angier.

6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Public readings of works-in-progress by Douglas Preston, Natalie Angier, Jon Franklin, George Johnson, and Sandra Blakeslee at Plaza Resolana. Collected Works bookstore will sell copies of the authors' books.

8 p.m. Explore the Plaza; forage for dinner.

Friday, July 3

7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. Breakfast at Plaza Resolana.

8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. "Overcoming Journalistic Laryngitis." Natalie Angier, Sandra Blakeslee, Jon Franklin, George Johnson, Rick Weiss. How much of yourself should you put into your stories? How do you walk the line between being the journalistic fly-on-the-wall and a human being with something to say?

10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Meet with your instructor for free-for-all discussions.

12 noon to 1:15 p.m. Lunch at Plaza Resolana.

1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. "Finding Literature in the Laboratory." Jon Franklin. Finding and writing short stories, nonfiction and novellas with a twist of science.

3 p.m. Meet in front of Plaza Resolana for trip to Tsankawi ruins. Bring sunscreen, hat, and water.

4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Explore the ruins.

7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Dinner at Rancho de Chimayo in the village of Chimayo, New Mexico.

8:45 p.m. Return to Plaza Resolana.

Saturday, July 4

7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. Breakfast at Plaza Resolana. For a change of pace, you might want to check out the 23rd Annual Pancake Breakfast on the Plaza, beginning at 7 a.m., with live entertainment from Baile Espanol, the Dancing Grandmothers, the High Desert Sweet Adelines, and other Santa Fe talent. The cost is $5 and proceeds go to The Food Depot and United Way.

8:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Each student will have a 30-minute individual consultation with his or her instructor and a detailed writing critique. While you are waiting, Douglas Preston, who writes about archeology for The New Yorker, will talk about his work. In addition to his science writing, Preston is a successful author of novels with scientific themes. His books include the classic Dinosaurs in the Attic : An Excursion into the American Museum of Natural History and the novel Jennie, about a chimpanzee raised so closely with humans that she comes to believe she is one too. He is also the coauthor, with Lincoln Child, of three thrillers, Relic, Reliquary, and Mount Dragon, and two nonfiction books about the expeditions he and his family have taken in the Southwest: Talking to the Ground : One Family's Journey on Horseback Across the Sacred Land of the Navajo and Cities of Gold: A Journey Across the American Southwest in Coronado's Footsteps. Afterwards, Tom Johnson will conduct a workshop on science writing and the Internet. As more information becomes available online, how do you weed out the garbage? What are the ground rules for interviewing people by email?

12 noon to 1:15 p.m. Lunch at Plaza Resolana.

1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Individual consultations continue. Relax and prepare for the evening's big event.

5:30 p.m. Meet in front of Plaza Resolana for a ride to the Fourth of July barbecue.

6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Barbecue at George Johnson's house.

Sunday, July 5

7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. Breakfast at Plaza Resolana. Please check out before attending final session. Luggage can be left at the front desk.

9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Closing discussion and farewell.