Welcome to Friday Fiction Facts: Sciency things fiction writers need to know. 

Your main character is an investigative journalist. In this scene she has to talk to a scientist in order to solve a mystery. So she hops in her car and drives to …where? And talks to …whom?

Well, if it’s up to stock photo companies, she drives to a lab and talks to a white dude looking at (or drinking from?) beakers of coloured water (don’t ask me what’s happening in that first photo):


A Google image search adds a little more diversity. We now have people of colour, women, and microscopes mixed in with our white dudes with beakers. Still, everyone is in a lab taking questionable enough actions that they have been mocked widely.

But why, you ask, the focus on stock photos and Google images? Because stock photos are no worse than stock characters in fiction. How we think about scientists (or any career for that matter) is formed by what we see in the world. If your readers’ only exposure to science is through media, they may not know what real scientists look like or do …and where they do it. So it’s up to you to help them.

On that note, today I want to introduce you to some people and hashtags to help you model your characters after actual living scientists. I urge you to click the hashtags to see more of these great people and the work they do. My hope is that when you’re done, you’ll see that your novel’s scientists can be literally anyone!

Hashtag: Twitter: #ActualLivingScientist,; Instagram: #actuallivingscientist


Hashtag: Twitter #WomenInSTEM ,


Instagram #womeninstem

Beyond the Binary

Hashtags Twitter #LGBTQInSTEM, #QueerInSTEM,  #LGBTScience

Instagram: 500 Queer Scientists, (also see the 500 Queer Scientists website) #QueerinSTEM

BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour)

Twitter: #IndigenousSTEM, #BlackinSTEM



Disabled, Differently-abled


And finally, if the scientist in your story has more than a cameo, remember, scientists have interesting lives outside of science. Go ahead and click that link and scroll the nearly 700 photos of more actual living scientists. Open a few of them to see how those people really live — what they do in their lives. You’ll quickly see it’s not all about lab benches and beakers.




** Header images, L-R (CC 2.0):

  • Tameka Dandridge built in LEGO by Courtney Celley/USFWS.
  • Carey Edwards of Iron River National Fish Hatchery built in LEGO by Courtney Celley/USFWS.
  • Aleshia Kenney built in LEGO by Courtney Celley/USFWS.