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“An essay can have just as much factual information, but it’s based around this unique, personal, internal logic,” says Hopson, who teaches a science essay course to graduate students in the University of California, Santa Cruz’s Science Communication program.Bringing this personal, internal logic to an idea can open up previously unexplored territory for readers—and for writers as well. I think they’re probably right—except that I’ve never been exactly sure what an essay is.
Because essays seem quieter to me than full-throttle features, I sometimes think that I need to grab a reader’s interest by starting smack in the middle of action.It’s not normally light reading, but it pulls the reader along with a growing understanding of Quammen’s predicament.It’s sometimes shocking to suddenly have the freedom to insert yourself into an essay, particularly when you’re used to keeping yourself out of the story in traditional news pieces.The underlying structure, Hopson says, is what separates the two.In an essay, the writer directs the movement from idea to idea; a feature’s structure comes from its subject.What’s also evident in this essay is the writer’s subtle transformation.Boggs contemplates some counterpoints—from a female gorilla on birth control pills to Virginia Woolf, who wrote on one occasion that the thrill of writing well surpassed her longtime desire for children—near the essay’s end.“I like to have a personal relationship with my subject,” he says. who’s behind what I write, to the extent one can be clear about who one is.” No matter how much a writer reveals himself, he has to find a way to make his experience resonate with others.contributing editor Michelle Nijhuis, who edits essays for the biweekly, looks for writers who can get journalistic distance on themselves.But sometimes, when I’m trying to start out an essay, I’m not sure yet where the action is.Panek, co-author of “because the moment that you start to put something down on paper, the reader is already interested in what came before.” The beginning of Belle Boggs’ lovely essay “The Art of Waiting” does just that.