Monday, December 30, 2019

Biographical Writing

One of the suggestions I got via the Suggestion Box last year was to create a "biographical writing" option for extra credit, so I decided to do that as an extra credit option each week, and also as an option for the Story Lab (Weeks 4-6-10-12-14-15). Please repeat as often as you want, either for extra credit and/or for the Story Lab. :-)

Your biographical story could be a microfiction (something as short as 100 words), or something longer, like the stories you write for the regular storytelling assignments. For this biographical story, you will not have bibliography to cite; instead you will get the raw story materials from your own life.

Even though you are writing from life, you will still have all the same creative storytelling choices as for any story you write:
     will you use first-person, or third? or maybe even second?
     do you want to write in prose or verse? or a mix of both?
     do you want to use past tense or present?
     how/when/where will you decide to start the story?
     how will you pull the reader into your world? 
     what can you do to make the characters come alive?
     how will you bring the story to an end?
     what is the most important takeaway for your readers?
     etc. etc. etc.
Writing biography is just as much of a stylistic adventure as any other kind of storytelling, and the key is to find the right style to go with the story you want to tell.

Post details. For the post title, include the word "Biography" somewhere in the title, and you can also use "Biography" for the label. For the author's note, you can explain about the choices you made: why you chose this particular topic or prompt, why you chose the length/style you did, what was easy or hard about writing the story, etc. Be sure to include some kind of image also, with image information.

At the bottom of this post you will find some writing prompts that might help you as you decide how to tell something from your life as a story. I hope they will be useful! Of course, you are not limited to those prompts, and if you have other ideas I can use as prompts here, let me know.

Comment option. These stories will not go into the randomizer for comments, unless you tell me that you do want comments. So, if you have a biography story post that you DO want me to put in the randomizer, you can fill out this form to let me know: Biographical Writing for Comment. (The form is also embedded at the bottom of his post.)

The Declaration is a lot like the Declaration for a storytelling assignment, but it's a little bit different as you will see:

TITLE: I used the phrase "Biography" plus my own title (for example, Biography: The Piano Recital)
LABELS: I used two labels — Biography, Week ## — separated by a comma. 
NOTE: The note explains my process for writing the biographical story and the choices I made in writing.
LENGTH. My story is between 100 and 1000 words in length.
IMAGE. I included at least one image with image information (caption and link).


* What is your earliest childhood memory?

* Write a story about something you lost (which maybe you found later, or maybe not).

* Write about learning how to do something: riding a bicycle, driving a car, cooking, gardening... any kind of learning experience that you remember vividly.

* Describe your childhood bedroom as you remember it.

* Share a vacation memory or a holiday memory.

* What is the stupidest thing you have ever done?

* Write about a favorite food or beverage and memories connected to that food or beverage.

* Describe an event or an encounter in your life when you expected things to go one way, and instead they went just the opposite of what you expected.

* Describe where you were living during your first semester of college. How did that place become part of your college experience?

* Write a story prompted by a personal photo. What words do you need to tell the whole story, beyond what we can see in the photo?

* Did someone in your family have an adventurous life? Tell a biographical story about one of your relatives.

* Tell us about your first pet.

* Is there a special game you used to play as a child? What made that game important to you?

* Has your life had something you would call a pivotal moment? A dramatic break of before-and-after or a big choice that you made? Write about that.

* What is the luckiest thing that ever happened to you? Or maybe you can write a story about the un-luckiest thing that ever happened to you (and how you coped).

* Tell a story about a neighbor, either someone who is your neighbor now, or someone who lived in your neighborhood in the past.

* Did you have a toy or stuffed animal that was important to you as a child? Tell us about that.

* Do you now have or have you had a mentor in your life? Tell us about your mentor.

* Is there something you were afraid of when you are little, or something you are afraid of now? Write a story about that fear and the strength that helps/helped you face that fear.

* Write a story prompted by a vivid memory of a smell or a sound.

* Have you traveled or lived in a place where you did not speak the language spoken around you? Write a story prompted by that experience.

* Share an event in your life when you later found out you had been wrong about something.

* Did you have a best friend when you were little? Tell us about that person (or animal, if that animal was your best friend).

* Write a story connected to the role of music in your life: a musical memory connected with a song or a concert, or perhaps you are a musician and have a story to share about your own music.

* Write a story that shows how your greatest strength is also a weakness, or, vice versa, how your greatest weakness is also a strength.

* Do you have a "virtual" friend, someone you have met online but not in real life? Tell us about your friendship.

* Write a story addressed to yourself that you can use when something goes wrong in your life in the future. What encouraging story can you write for your future self?

Some of these ideas are inspired by Melanie Faith's excellent book, In a Flash! Writing & Publishing Dynamic Flash Prose (just $2.99 at Amazon; highly recommended).

Use this form if you want me to put your story in the randomizer for comments: