View Full Version : First Person

01-26-2005, 04:22 AM
I have been researching and writing and re-writing a Bio on a famous person... I have hit on a way to put this story. It is in the first person.
Has this been done before?
Or anyother advice from the pros in publishing would be helpful.

Tish Davidson
01-26-2005, 06:37 AM
This has been done in children's biographies. I don't see how it could work for an adult bio and maintain a high degree of accuracy, since you are essentially putting words and thoughts into the subject's moutn and mind.

01-26-2005, 06:42 AM
Believe it or not it is not coming out that way. But I have found that it adds a smoothness to the story. It also seems to make the reader(s) stop and think, which is what is sooooo needed...

01-27-2005, 01:02 AM
I would say that the biggest problem you'll run in to is legitimacy when pitching it to a publisher as a biography : if you write the book in first person, then it's not really a biography, is it? It's not even an autobiography--it's a fictionalized autobiography (I guess that's what you'd call it). I assume you're not quoting directly from primary or secondary sources for the entire thing, but rather creating what the famous person may have said?
I like the idea, especially for children's books, but I'm not sure where a book like this would fit on a publisher's adult list--it's kind of neither fish nor fowl.

01-27-2005, 07:45 PM
Nomad thanks for your post. What I am attempting is to walk the reader through this persons life at least the first 2/3 of their life. The research and events are real and placing them into a standard way would bore you to tears, at least it did me. I decided to walk some of my material through the first person format and believe it or not it is working. I want my readers to stop and think.

01-27-2005, 10:27 PM
I agree with them. If you're writing a "biography" in first person, you are assuming the identity of the subject and you're talking as if you were him/her. That treads into fiction, since the subject simply didn't say those words. You'll have a hard time selling it as a biography. Not even autobiography since these words didn't come out of your subject's mouth.

If you do decide to do it in first person, it would probably be considered fiction (no matter how much research and truth there are in the story).

01-27-2005, 10:34 PM
maestrowork... I agree and I have since googled the subject. I cannot say this is a straight bio. I have had to go back a few years prior to this persons birth, to lay the groundwork. In fact it is the events leading up to this persons birth that was instrumental in makeing them what they are today.
I do not want this story to read "matter of fact"... which it would be if I wrote it in the tradional fashion. I want my readers to step into this persons shoes and try to visualize themselfs there at certain points (ages ) in this persons life.
Now do you see the problem, without me giving away who this person is.
If you have any ideas based on what I have said here please leave me a private message.

01-27-2005, 11:45 PM
Hi Biotales,
It sounds as if your book is going to be an interesting work of fiction--and that's fine. Historically accurate fiction is selling well these days (as is historically suspect fiction--this week's Publishers Weekly took a look at four new novels whose plots hinge on arcane historic facts, similar to the Da Vinci Code). Just keep in mind that fiction is usually more difficult to get published than nonfiction. The bottom line is that if you put your words into your subject's mouth, you're not writing a biography--or a nonfiction work.

01-28-2005, 01:07 AM
Nomad, I do understand what you are saying... this has to remain in the non-fiction arena... and it will... and maybe first person is not the right way to put this string... this person has lived a life that could read yadda yadda yadda... but instead what I would like to attempt is place this bio into a story atmosphere... not a piece of fictional work. It is working out the kinks so it does not read like a economic growth chart. Boring... there really is that much there. some of the other bios I have written and have had published did not have so much involvement into their lives as this one person has.

Betty W01
01-31-2005, 11:57 PM
Bio, I think I understand what you're saying about boring blah-blah biographies, but you need to listen to the rest of what everyone is saying. A biography with made-up dialogue is NOT a non-fiction book, and that format is no longer as well-respected even as a children's book (I'm a children's librarian).

As an adult book, such as Dutch (Reagan's fictionalized biography), it is not considered non-fiction. In order to be considered non-fiction, the facts must be accurate, *including the dialogue*. And the only kind of biography that can be in first person and still be accepted as N-F is an autobiography, the story of someone's life *as told by that person*.

Your book might end up being fascinating, but it won't be considered N-F by agents, editors, or booksellers/librarians, and as fiction, it will be a bit of a harder sell.

Good luck!!

02-01-2005, 01:13 AM
Hi Betty,
I wanted to let you know I just sent you a private email with a question.

02-01-2005, 09:53 PM
Nomad.... are you using my string to send secret messages to betty lou.... is that it...
anyway... back to the problem... 1st person was a wrong thing.... I have done some research and I think I will follow the line of Truman Capote...