November workshop report: Metaphor & irony

The metaphor of modern medicine as a tower anchored a draft piece of fiction that we workshopped this month. In the story another tower appeared through the mist, too: alternative medicine. This text used concrete visual drama to take an idea and, as the screenwriting teacher Robert McKee puts it, wrap that idea in an emotional charge. We brainstormed ways to choose images in a text so that they align with and support an overall governing metaphor in a piece of science writing.

Then we looked at a new draft of an innovative piece of nonfiction that we'd workshopped almost a year ago. The first part of this text employed the language of marketing to draw the reader into what turns out to be a critical investigation of the promise of longevity boosting with nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). We discussed the tricky balance of writing with irony—use only a tiny bit? or a lot?—in order to hint at tensions in the text to come, or reveal them with full force.

History of NeuWrite

During dinner we chatted about the history of NeuWrite, which was founded at Columbia University in New York in 2009, as a collaboration between the department of biological sciences and the graduate creative writing program. The co-founder, Stuart Firestein, is the author of two books on science:


After our delicious but healthy takeout dinner we decided it might be nice to have chocolate cake at our meetings, too. Noted for the future.

—Trevor Corson

Resources & references

The following came up in our discussion or were relevant to the workshop texts or theme:

Image: Giuseppe Ramos, Vecteezy

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