There is not one reliable recipe for creating a popular science essay. Writing texts is unfortunately not a kitchen. Nobody will tell you what specific ingredients you need to use; in what order and proportions to mix them, to get the desired effect. In fact, each text can be approached a bit differently, and this approach changes with the subject, but also with the writer. In the essay it is even more visible than in other types of texts, because this genre is characterized above all by subjectivism. It is a statement that should represent one particular person – its author. You. Regardless of the topic, if you are writing an essay, your point of view is the most important.
Therefore, as it was said, there are no strict guidelines. But they are not needed, because the essay, also popular science, is a genre that leaves the author the freedom to shape the text. It is even said that all tricks are allowed here – which is probably not entirely true, but indicates what is important – you have to express yourself; present a topic the way you perceive it. Hence, the following guidelines are not any sacred and unshakeable principles of essay writing – you should not treat them like that. These are only tips that can help you transfer your thoughts to paper.
1. Carefully study the topic
Familiarize yourself with the literature regarding your problem. Not for this, God forbid to repeat other people’s views and conclusions (essay subjectivism, remember!), But to be able to address them and, more importantly, know what has already been said in the subject and what new, fresh you can add from yourself, moving the same issue. What is what you want to write that will be different from the thoughts of your predecessors? Because you would agree that if your essay were to be just a duplication of what can be found in other texts, there would be no reason to write it. At best, he would become a kind of compendium of knowledge on a given subject, a set of available information, but not necessarily an essay.
2. Write down your thoughts and conduct the selection
The essay itself may (and even should) have a loose composition, but that does not mean that you have to let chaos creep into it. It is difficult sometimes to resist the temptation to write on a given subject anything that comes to our minds, but it rarely brings good results.
Therefore, before you start, it is good to write down, not caring about the order and composition, all those thoughts that are bothering you about the topic of your essay. Do not limit yourself, write everything. All possible theses, aspects of the case, conclusions, associations.
Once you have it in front of you, it’s time for selection. A moment ago you could throw in everything that came to your mind. And that was what it was about, but now it will have to be sifted. Judge which thoughts are worth your essay.
Dismiss what is trivial, hackneyed. Give up what does not bring anything new to the subject – unless you feel that you are able to present your old thoughts in a new, original way.
3. Sort the material
What remains after the selection process now needs to be sorted out. It is important for you to be able to see the connections between individual elements and be able to determine the nature of their relationship. Are they analogous? Does one come from the other? Or maybe they stand in opposition to each other?
You will certainly notice that certain elements, thus connecting with others, will create certain, larger or smaller groups of related content. The biggest of them show which of your theses and thoughts connect with the most others and, as such, are ideal for organizing bigger whole around them (for example, chapters) that will make up your essay. And if you’re really lucky or talented (or you just hit on your dream topic), you’ll be able to combine these larger parties to create a homogeneous, coherent whole.
Of course, it is not that after this selection, you have to stick to it. At every stage of creating an essay, you can say that some elements that have passed this screen positively, now somehow do not interact with the resulting text. They are poorer in substance or simply seem to be getting away from the rest. In this case, of course, without embarrassment, throw away what raises your doubt. It is better that the essay be succinct and concrete than if it was to change into a long list of subsequent motives that you felt obliged to “tick off”.
4. Pay attention to the language
The popular-science essay imposes a certain style on its own. The “popularity” member indicates that despite the scientific content, you should not attack the reader without warning you with handfuls of professional terms or theories, which he simply will not understand. You do not write for scientific authorities or specialists in a given field. Your recipient is someone who, colloquially speaking, does not necessarily “sit on the topic”. Ordinary Kowalski, the average bread eater – no matter how we call him.
You should try to put things in an accessible way. Sometimes it may require you to stay longer with a passage to explain issues that may be too difficult for such a reader. It is worth doing this nod to the recipient, even if in the depths of your soul you would like to run with the text further and cover with all subsequent revelations
Writing for “ordinary people” can not, however, mean a bit of style. Popular science is one thing, but the word “essay” also puts some demands on you. This is a paraliterate genre, which in itself gives you greater freedom than when creating strictly scientific texts (you can use loose associations, digressions, etc.), but at the same time imposes a style. A literary style, and even, as some want, an essay somewhat closer to poetic prose. It’s best to read a few essays to know what is more or less expected of you in this regard.
5. Be true to yourself
Tips, hints – you should treat everything you read above. These are not strict guidelines, as the essay, being a form from the borderline of literature, is not something strict. It is important that you know how to include your own individuality in it, and that there are no ready recipes and no one will do it better than you.