As a research engineer, I author a lot of dry, science-y technical stuff. Everything from scholarly journal articles and tech reports to test plans, lab manuals, and memos. Besides the snore factor, one thing that sets this type of writing aside from fiction is that it’s often not necessary to provide smooth transitions from one part of the document to the next. It’s perfectly acceptable, for instance, to jump right from “specimen preparation” to “instrumentation requirements” without any words to link the two sections. Just write up the former in its own titled or numbered section and do the same with the latter. No need for anything fancy, such as:
“it was raining hard outside the laboratory, providing a soothing white noise for prepping the samples….later that afternoon, however, that same pounding rain made it almost impossible to concentrate on the instrumentation plan...”As I plunge into fiction-writing, however, I’m learning that the same sort of brevity and shorthand doesn’t always work. In fact, sometimes it produces quite unexpected results.
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