Saturday, January 22, 2011

Writing Because it Matters

There are a number of books about writing that sit on the shelf above my desk, books that I return to again and again. Now that I am working on writing a biography for the first time, I took another look at Creative Nonfiction: Researching and Crafting Stories from Real Life, by Philip Gerard. 

Gerard poses an important question for the writer of nonfiction: Why am I writing this? The answer should be, "because it matters."
It's the writer's job to show the reader why it matters to him, in hopes that it will begin to matter to the reader. That is my goal in writing about the life and times of Mary Pickford.  I want you to "give a darn!"

More specific to writing biography, Gerard reminds the writer that he cannot invent dialogue, nor can he present the inner life of characters. "A good biography is founded on truthfulness." 

This is one of my favourite quotes from Gerard's book: "Your writing is just black marks on the page until it happens in somebody else's head." 
Write on!

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