Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Biographer's Craft

The Biographer's CraftThe Biographer's Craft
by Milton Lomask
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"Katherine Anne Porter, speaking of fiction, could have been speaking of biography when she said that a human life 'may be almost pure chaos' and that 'the work of the artist, the only thing he's good for, is to take these handfuls of confusion and disparate things, things that seem to be irreconcilable, and put them together in a frame to give them some kind of shape and meaning.'" (p. 39)
This slim volume contains lots of useful information about the writing of biography including ideas on selecting a subject, organizing your material, sources of information on your subject, discussion of what makes a good biography, and info on what makes good writing. It is an older book and the concept of online research is not part of it, but that info can be found elsewhere.

An example of the advice about structure:
"...every opening should do at least four things. It should (1) announce or foreshadow the main theme of the work (2) meet whatever objections potential readers may have to your subject, (3) orient the reader as to time and place, and (4) engage his mind and heart." (p. 53)
I am counting this book toward the 2018 non-fiction reading challenge.

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