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How to handle missing info

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Hi, I've written a nonfiction picture book on a person and historical incident that is little known. I have gone as far as I can with the research (I'm a journalist by training and I love research so this isn't a hardship) and there doesn't seem to be much more information than what I have. The feedback I've gotten so far is that I need more about what happens immediately after the event, which does not exist. There is some rumor, but not official facts. Any ideas how to handle this? Thanks!
#1 - May 26, 2020, 06:21 AM

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I love, love, love NF PB bios. And the situation you are dealing with is very common. Sometimes, if all else fails, you might need to write it as a historical fiction, making assumptions on facts around the situation and include back matter about what is factual and what isn't.

One book I clearly remember doing an interesting take on it was the story of the invention of the chocolate chip cookie. It's HOW THE COOKIE CRUMBLED: THE TRUE (AND NOT SO TRUE) STORIES OF THE INVENTION OF THE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE by Gilbert Ford. He actually used the three commonly told stories as part of his plot.

In February, a blog group, the NF Chicks, did an entire month of blog posts on writing NF. There are several posts that might help you out. Here is a specific one by PB Bio author Vivian Kirkfield titled "Crafting a True Story When Information is Scarce."  But I highly recommend taking some time and scanning the list of all the blog posts as you might find more useful info:

https://www.nffest.com/2020/02/crafting-true-story-when-information-is.html

Donna Janell Bowman also has lots of posts on her blog about writing PB bios. A lot of her posts are about research, which it sounds like you've done, but there might be information you find helpful:

https://www.donnajanellbowman.com/category/picture-book-biographies/

Best of luck!!!!!
#2 - May 26, 2020, 06:55 AM
« Last Edit: May 26, 2020, 07:03 AM by dkshumaker »
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I have nothing to add to this thorough answer. Thanks Deb. I love NF bios too.
#3 - May 26, 2020, 07:01 AM
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Amazing! Thank you.
#4 - May 26, 2020, 07:02 AM

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I was going to mention Gilbert's book, but someone beat me to the punch. Another way to handle this is in the author's note, like in The Kite That Bridged Two Nations by Alexis O'Neill. It talks about what they know and don't know about the event.
#5 - May 27, 2020, 05:44 AM
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Thank you!
#6 - May 27, 2020, 07:19 AM

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I love, love, love NF PB bios. And the situation you are dealing with is very common. Sometimes, if all else fails, you might need to write it as a historical fiction, making assumptions on facts around the situation and include back matter about what is factual and what isn't.

One book I clearly remember doing an interesting take on it was the story of the invention of the chocolate chip cookie. It's HOW THE COOKIE CRUMBLED: THE TRUE (AND NOT SO TRUE) STORIES OF THE INVENTION OF THE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE by Gilbert Ford. He actually used the three commonly told stories as part of his plot.

In February, a blog group, the NF Chicks, did an entire month of blog posts on writing NF. There are several posts that might help you out. Here is a specific one by PB Bio author Vivian Kirkfield titled "Crafting a True Story When Information is Scarce."  But I highly recommend taking some time and scanning the list of all the blog posts as you might find more useful info:

https://www.nffest.com/2020/02/crafting-true-story-when-information-is.html

Donna Janell Bowman also has lots of posts on her blog about writing PB bios. A lot of her posts are about research, which it sounds like you've done, but there might be information you find helpful:

https://www.donnajanellbowman.com/category/picture-book-biographies/

Best of luck!!!!!

This is great info, Deb. Thanks for sharing!
#7 - May 27, 2020, 11:38 AM
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