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Genres & Age Categories => Picture Books (PB) => Topic started by: zoraida-rivera on March 22, 2016, 07:42 PM

Title: Writing Picture Book Biographies
Post by: zoraida-rivera on March 22, 2016, 07:42 PM
I'm researching for a picture book biography. I found two excellent resources on writing these type of biographies:

http://www.darcypattison.com/picture-books/how-to-write-a-picture-book-biography/

http://www.tinamcho.com/blog/category/how-to-write-a-picture-book-biography

I'm trying to find the best angle to write it. How do you go about it? Are there any sites or books you could recommend to aid me in this direction?                        :dogwalk


Title: Re: Writing Picture Book Biographies
Post by: lauriew on March 23, 2016, 05:19 AM
First, I do a lot of research. As I'm taking notes, I also make a list of possible scenes for a picture book. With each succeeding source, I find I'm focusing more on some aspects than others of the person's life. Then, ta da! I realize I've found my focus.
Title: Re: Writing Picture Book Biographies
Post by: Verla Kay on March 23, 2016, 09:35 AM
I wrote a non-fiction picture book biography of a stagecoach driver from the 1800's. It has a lot of extra information in the book in the back matter and has been very well received.

It's called Rough, Tough Charley and it's written in rhyme. You can see excerpts from it on the Books pages of my website to see how I approached and handled the subject. http://www.verlakay.com
Title: Re: Writing Picture Book Biographies
Post by: RebeccaL-G on March 23, 2016, 10:39 AM
After reading and research I try to come up with a theme that encapsulates that person's life and some words to go with that theme.  I did that for my pb bio on Malala and it provided direction for me and served as guideposts for the emotional depth I tried to create. 
Title: Re: Writing Picture Book Biographies
Post by: DianeBailey on March 23, 2016, 12:20 PM
Another thing to consider is the format/structure. Carmella Van Vleet's "To the Stars," about a woman astronaut alternates between spreads of what the subject did as a girl, and then how that translated into events in her adult life.
Title: Re: Writing Picture Book Biographies
Post by: Vijaya on March 23, 2016, 03:00 PM
Good links, thanks Zoraida. I love PB biographies. I think the subject will reveal whether you want to do a birth-death type biography or whether it's better to just focus on a key event. I've read both types. I've written biographies for magazines and they usually revolve around a single, seminal event that impacts the rest of their lives.

Good luck! Biographies are great fun to research and write.
Vijaya
Title: Re: Writing Picture Book Biographies
Post by: zoraida-rivera on March 23, 2016, 08:50 PM
Lauriew and Vijaya it feels good to know that some of the answers are revealed in the process. I need to keep researching. The person I'm studying for this biography shined in a time when he was greatly limited by his circumstances. It's one of the great things about him. I will have to balance his story with a bit of history.

VerlaKay I will check your site. Thank you!

RebeccaL-G, that's a great idea! I wil look into that.

DianeBailey, structure is very important. I read an article about this, but it didn't include that possibility.

Thank you all. :yourock
Title: Re: Writing Picture Book Biographies
Post by: Tina Cho on March 27, 2016, 10:24 PM
Hey, Zoraida-Rivera,
Thanks for including the link to my blog; I'm glad it was helpful. To me, the best resource for writing a nf pb biography was taking Kristen Fulton's Nonfiction Archaeology online class.  http://www.nonfictionarchaeology.com/
I learned so much through that!
Good luck on your writing!
Title: Re: Writing Picture Book Biographies
Post by: zoraida-rivera on March 31, 2016, 07:43 PM
Hi Tina Cho,

Yes, your blog was helpful.  :goodpost  Thank you for the link. I found it interesting.
Title: Re: Writing Picture Book Biographies
Post by: Dionna on March 31, 2016, 08:05 PM
I began writing PB bios that covered birth to adulthood, but now I am trying to focus on one event in the person's life. I have no idea if I'm approaching it right, but it feels like a real narrative. My favorite older PB bio is Kate Shelley & the Midnight Express. I keep looking for a story like that, one that tells itself.

Thanks for the Nonfiction Archaeology link, Tina!
Title: Re: Writing Picture Book Biographies
Post by: Dionna on March 31, 2016, 08:07 PM
I wrote a non-fiction picture book biography of a stagecoach driver from the 1800's. It has a lot of extra information in the book in the back matter and has been very well received.

It's called Rough, Tough Charley and it's written in rhyme. You can see excerpts from it on the Books pages of my website to see how I approached and handled the subject. http://www.verlakay.com

Verla, you're a master at this genre!
Title: Re: Writing Picture Book Biographies
Post by: Tina Cho on March 31, 2016, 08:20 PM
Glad to be of help!   :flowers2
Title: Re: Writing Picture Book Biographies
Post by: zoraida-rivera on March 31, 2016, 08:32 PM
Dionna,

When I checked the book you mentioned, it brought to mind a book I read by Sally M. Walker, Mary Anning: Fossil Hunter.

She's a great nonfiction writer. Had the privilege of meeting her at a Highlights Foundation Workshop.

Thanks for your comment.
Title: Re: Writing Picture Book Biographies
Post by: Dionna on April 01, 2016, 06:36 AM
You're welcome, Zoraida, and thanks for your links, too!
Title: Re: Writing Picture Book Biographies
Post by: naddie on April 04, 2016, 06:31 AM
Hello All,

The information shared here is priceless.

I too want to write a NF PB biography and wanted to know if you need to have input from the person you are writing about (if alive) and whether you notify them that you have a book coming out about them as a kind of courtesy?

Thanks
Title: Re: Writing Picture Book Biographies
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on April 04, 2016, 07:03 AM
I think that if the person is alive, it could help your research. You might want to let them know you are writing about them. After all, they may have diaries as well as memories and photos you could use. In some cases, they may even authorize your biography. It can't hurt to ask for their input, but do set boundaries because it's still your book.