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Weaving Wonder into an Article: Interviews

Cheryl's Musings: Weaving Wonder into an Article: Interviews

Cheryl's Musings

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road


Weaving Wonder into an Article: Interviews

This past weekend, I had the chance to do one of my favorite writing-related jobs: interviewing experts. In this case, I spent time talking with Terry and Linn Turner, of the Rabbit Creek Emu Ranch; a zoology student from Colorado State University; and a scientist who is interested in emu behavior. I also got to spend time up-close and personal with the birds. (More on this later, once the writing is finished...)

Female emus make the weirdest sound: ba-ba-boom, ba-ba-bum, like distant drumbeats. The males cross a roar with a growl to make a noise that, I'm told, sounds similar to the noise an ostrich makes, but I haven't had the opportunity to meet any ostriches face-to-face.

Most my nonfiction writing projects lead, sooner or later, to an interviews with an expert--and I've discovered that these interviews are one of my favorite parts of writing nonfiction. I've had the chance to speak with the most interesting people: an ethnomusicologist, a museum curator, and a steel drum player; a paleontologist, a geologist, and other scientists from around the world. For an hour or two, I have the chance to absorb their excitement for their particular field. I get to hear the inside scoop of what it's like to live the life of the geologist or paleontologist or field biologist, with all the funny stories and confusing turns that don't make it into scientific papers or newspaper reports.

Afterward, I get to distill all the collected information--about the person, the field, the stories, the struggles--into a few paragraphs that, I hope, paint a picture of the people, not just the facts. When I can capture the excitement of these people for what they do, I can communicate a sense of wonder to the reader.

Or maybe I'm just communicating my own wonder, because whenever I learn about a subject in-depth, from someone who loves it, I come away with a new love for the topic. Maybe enthusiasm is catching, because I caught some this weekend!

:) Cheryl



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