Saturday, February 19, 2011

Biography Writing Notes

This page contains my own notes on writing biographies, drawn from many sources.

Robert Caro on Writing Biographies Notes on C-SPAN giving the Leon Levy Biography Lecture

  • Sense of place : often omitted from biographies
    • Impress upon the reader a sense of the place, so that this can help them understand the subject's own impressions and feelings
    • The importance of small sounds, animals in the night, etc
    • Carola's sense of place is undisputed, and is captured in her artwork. It will thus be important to capture the sense of Washington state, Alaska, California, Africa, and Colorado very well.
  • Central life lessons or burdens
    • Example: Caro wrote a biography about President Lyndon Johnson. Johnson had to tend a farm his father bought for more than it was worth, due to its poor soil. He tied this to Johnson's intense ability to "count votes" in the Senate. His life of "living with his father's greatest one mistake" had taught Johnson that he never wanted to be wrong.

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