If you know me at all, you know I’m not a science student. I am a LITERATURE major. Science and I have a bit of a tense history lately, actually, BUT, if you take a basic science course you will be using it every week of your life (because I’m really not in a position to account for your day-to-day activity). As a writer, this is especially true, and even more so if your science class is geology.
Let me explain.
Firstly, you need to describe your setting. If you are describing a bunch of shield volcanoes in the middle of Minnesota because you think it would look awesome, you clearly don’t understand how volcanoes work. If you have Hawai’i with an incredibly explosive eruption, you clearly don’t understand how volcanoes work. If you’ve got a massive earthquake going on in the middle of Nebraska and you’re NOT writing about Armageddon… get your butt in a geology class RIGHT NOW.
Next, if you are a writer, you need to watch the weather channel. You need to know where natural disasters are occurring, and what size that earthquake is. What’s a Mercalli Index? It measures devastation so a REALLY BIG EARTHQUAKE can get a low Mercalli number if there’s nothing around the epicenter for miles and miles and miles. What’s an epicenter? Go take a geology class. Or read copious amounts of Wikipedia if that’s cheaper, but these are the sorts of things that really help.
Basically, as Natalie Cannon has told me many times, the mark of a great writer is description. If you can’t make your reader believe every word and picture it all, you’re going to have problems. Understanding the basic workings of your main sciences will help you to create and describe a believable setting and including probable events. No, I’m never going to follow my brother down the rabbit-hole of astrophysics, but understanding gravity isn’t a bad idea if I ever write something sci-fi. For me, knowing what sort of soil to describe is an important thing. For you, gravity might be a better way to go. Know your science!
And that’s all from my random, geology-essay-writing mind for the night on THAT topic.