1. creative nonfiction
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    creative nonfiction New Member

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    Would you call me a Biography writer?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by creative nonfiction, Jan 12, 2013.

    I am a writer for a couple of local newspapers, I write heartwarming true animal stories, for example "Abused Dog Becomes a Hospice Hero" I am now writing a narrative nonfiction book about two heroic women who devoted their lives to a bunch of feral dogs that ended up adoptable due to their dedication. Would that be called a Biography? I write other peoples animal stories.
    THANKS, J
     
  2. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    When I hear the word biography, I think about a story written about a person's life. If you are writing the story about their life dedicated to these feral dogs, then maybe it could be considered a biography. I honestly can't be sure since I don't specialize in biographies for writing.
     
  3. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, it sounds like it would be considered narrative nonfiction. Biography usually traces one person's life (although sometimes it could trace two if their lives are very closely intertwined, such as siblings or spouses). It sounds like you're centering the story on the caring of these dogs, which, although it is spread out over a period of time, isn't really a biography, even though there may be biographical elements to it.
     
  4. sylvertech
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    sylvertech Active Member

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    Yes it would be, but you must also mention more about the rest of their life.

    Biographies are supposed to be comprehensive.
    You could pick a few experiences and write about those, of course,
    but just make sure to weave in the past.
     
  5. spartan928
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    spartan928 Member

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    Personally, I'd find the story of exactly what you described very compelling. It's focused on the women's work with the dogs and the outcomes. If you were writing a full biography of the women's lives I wonder if it would stretch things out too much beyond that focus. Biographical material is good, but I'd suggest sticking to events in their lives that are relevant to starting and running the dog shelter.
     
  6. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    A biography is generally considered to be about the subject's whole life, not just one part of it. If I bought a supposed biography and found out it was focused only on one activity or period of their life, I wouldn't be too happy about it.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto that!

    a biography covers the person's whole life, not just one aspect of it... why do you think you need the label 'biographer'?... or to limit yourself to any one label?... isn't just 'writer' good enough?...
     
  8. PaulKemp24
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    PaulKemp24 Member

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    Is it going to read like a novel or like a newspaper feature story? If the answer is novel than narrative nonfiction or creative nonfiction would likely be it. If it's going to read more like a newspaper feature than probably nonfiction would be more accurate. From what you're describing it doesn't sound like biography would fit.

    Is the narrator going to be one of the women? Or will it be in third-person? And are you going to create scenes and conversations that took place -- sort of "re-creating" them if you will? In other words, will there be a little bit of fiction used as a way of telling the story?
     
  9. creative nonfiction
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    creative nonfiction New Member

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    Thank you, Paul Kemp!
    That was a decision I was struggling with. I would like it to be narrative nonfiction in 3rd person. Yes re-creating things from their perspective...its a lot of work, interviewing all the key people involved etc.
     
  10. PaulKemp24
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    PaulKemp24 Member

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    Narrative nonfiction is a natural for newspaper reporters (used to be one myself) because of the interviewing, fact-gathering and overall reporting that is required.

    One thing to keep in mind -- if you write it in first person you will have the opportunity to cast yourself as a character in the story. If you were actually involved in or had any part of the dogs being rescued than you'd want to consider going with a first-person narrative. Otherwise, third-person is probably the way to go. In third-person, it will read basically like a really long newspaper feature story (which is what you do already).

    The hardest part will be interviewing the women and having them describe particular experiences such as the first time they saw the dogs, etc. The key to putting together a good book will be really capturing those moments and then re-telling them for the reader. The more details, the better.

    If you're looking for a good narrative nonfiction to read as an example, check out "Skyjack" by Geoffrey Gray. It came out last fall and was a NY Times bestseller. Very well done and a fascinating story. Pretty quick read too. He did it in first-person and cast himself in the story as an investigative reporter.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    btw, if you were, you would actually be called a 'biographer'...
     

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