By being in tune with your story, as much as the subjects, and tying that to the reader takeaway. We need to prick our own hearts. We need to bleed—just a little. We need to be sharing our own personal beliefs, hopes and pains.
Uh-oh, I hear you grumbling. Bethany, wait a second. Doesn’t that break all the rules?
Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe, it’s all a fine dance, where the steps laid in drafting and revision, do eventually become invisible. But that doesn’t mean, that we as the “dancers,” didn’t take them intentionally, planning every footstep and movement. We think about what the reader needs to know—and when? We change scenes with the move of a page turn. With pacing and sentence structure, we can weave story threads together. To be drawn to a subject there has to be a “why”—a deep “why” for ourselves and our readers.
And we must do all this AND stay true to the facts. Creative nonfiction, which almost all nonfiction these days is, simply means we writers can use the tools that all writers have at their disposal: voice, character, setting, pacing, repetition, refrain, subtext. We must consult our primary and secondary sources, listen to speeches, and read books, taking deep notes. But the real magic begins to happen, when we are able to connect the subject’s narrative through line to our own, and then to a deep need our readers may have. When that happens, feelings are felt. In us. In our readers.
Subtext! And what do I mean by connecting the subject’s narrative through line to our own?
In biography—for me—a phrase to describe that subtext is a phrase I heard Libba Bray, the YA wunderkind, use when she was teaching a YA intensive with us at The Writing Barn, in thinking about character development—to “thread the needle” tying together your writer heart, the character heart, and then the heart of the reader.
So how does that work in nonfiction?
For me, I start with a deep connection to the subjects I am drawn to. Harper Lee. Mahatma Gandhi. Maya Angelou. Jimmy Carter. Each of these figures shaped the “me” I am. Their books. Their words. Their life’s work lived inside me and beside me, long before I decided to attempt to write a picture book biography of their lives. So, whose life and life’s work has always meant much to you? Some would call these figures personal heroes. Or maybe they were “influencers” before the term got attached to products and Instagram. Who are the scientists, artists, social justice figures that made you YOU? Start there, with a personal connection.
Next, dig in and do the research. We can’t decide the through line ahead of time. Through the research, we must discover and unearth it. How did they become who they became? What obstacles did they face? How did they distinctly persevere? And in doing so we must think about those things for ourselves—what obstacles have we faced, or are we facing? Where do we share the same beliefs? And as much of ourselves as we are investing, our blood, sweat, and tears--we must think of the reader. The child reader. What do they need in their lives—what about your subject’s life will speak to them, inspire them? What is the impact—the reader takeaway—the emotional “ah-ha” you want to leave the readers with. Perhaps it is even something you need. That you too have struggled with.
Grandfather Gandhi did not come together until I embraced that the book was about anger and shame. Arun was angry and ashamed about that anger. As a child I was often angry and made to feel ashamed of that anger—instead of learning how to transform that anger into action—as the Mahatma does for his grandson, Arun. In schools, I have powerful conversations with students about anger, about what happens when we don’t express it, among the learning about life at the Sevagram ashram and the work of Gandhi and its impact on our country through the work of Dr. Martin Luther King. Lightning or lamp? The book asks. Kid readers get to answer that for themselves.
Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird is not just the telling of how young Nelle Harper Lee wrote America’s most beloved book. It is a story about why childhood matters. Nelle’s childhood? Yes. My childhood? Where I merged Scout and Ramona into the same spitfire girl I wanted to be? Yes. But more than that, it’s a story for the reader, of how and why what is happening to them in their lives right now might be used in their futures as they work to “live a life of their own design.”
Rise: From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou is more than a birth to death narrative about the great Maya Angelou’s resilience and ability to process trauma. It is about discovering one’s voice, using it in times of deep despair. It is about community. The healing power of the written and spoken word. For me, the key takeaway is, “there is no safety in silence.” Maya Angelou’s books, her activism, her performances told us this—and today’s readers need to hear it. As a truth teller myself, I need to hear it.
Hard Work But It’s Worth It, The Life of Jimmy Carter's central through line embodies a question. Why does hard work yield strong results only for some people? When this realization dawns on young Jimmy Carter, as a favored white man in the deep South, he sets about to make changes in the statehouse and eventually the White House, working for justice and equality because it is “right and fair.” And in his continued humanitarian work—former President Carter continues to define what it is to be an ally—long before that word was a part of our society’s lexicon. Discussions about white privilege and allyship need to be had. By me. By our teachers. By today’s readers. We all need to do what is right and what is fair—and not just for ourselves but for our communities—large and small.
I have a few more biographies in the publishing pipeline—and though I can’t reveal the subjects—I can reveal that what I believe, what my heart needs to hear, and to heal—is threaded into each and every biography I write.
Not at the expense of the subject.
Or at the expense of the reader.
Or to glorify my own journey.
But as a way to connect us—to pull tight the thread of human suffering, human dignity, human change, human hope.
So go thread that needle!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bethany Hegedus is a novelist and picture book author who lives and works in Austin, Texas. A graduate of VCFA, Bethany is the founder and creative director of The Writing Barn, a writing workshop and retreat center, where writers study online and in-person. She speaks and teaches widely and is the host of the Courage to Create Podcast. Find her online at bethanyhegedus.com
ABOUT THE PRIZE
One winner will receive a signed copy of Hard Work But It's Worth It and another will receive free admission to Bethany's class on picture book range:https://www.thewritingbarn.com/class/picture-book-range-with-author-bethany-hegedus/
Leave one comment below about what struck you in the post.
You’re eligible to win if you’re a registered NF Fest participant and you have contributed one comment below.
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
Bethany, thank you for your insightful thoughts on writing biographies. This quote from JohnGlenn is written on the wall of the Great Lakes Science Museum in Cleveland, Ohio: “We have an infinite amount to learn, both from nature and each other.”ReplyDelete
Fabulous explanation of the need for that deep, resonant "why" at the core of the book. Fuels my passion for the process! Thank you Bethany.ReplyDelete
I love looking at the lens of bio subjects through personal connection. "So, whose life and life’s work has always meant much to you?" Yes! The first two bios I attempted were people I admired and found interesting, but only learned about relatively recently. The bio I am currently attempting is someone whose writing I have always connected with and that draft has been SO much easier thus far. -Sara AckermanReplyDelete
Bethany, I love how you think and emphasized connecting the dots through a thread in our hearts. I've enjoyed your biographies and use them as mentor texts!ReplyDelete
Thank you for those wise words, Bethany. A personal connection is at the heart of story. Thank you for pointing out the importance of connecting writer, reader, and character.ReplyDelete
Threading the needle to connect us all...what could be better as a children's writer?! This is such a powerful way to look at what we do, all the way from brainstorming ideas, to researching them, to writing, revising, publishing...all the way to the final element: the child reader!ReplyDelete
Tying it all together with your interest to get readers' interest is important to keep in mind. Thanks for this post!ReplyDelete
I love the idea of connecting the subject to the author to the reader. What a way to bring heart to the story. Thank you, Bethany, for your wisdom.ReplyDelete
Thank you for your encouraging words. I needed to hear that it is ok - it is good! - to have a personal connection to my subject. It makes sense - if I don't care deeply about this person or this topic, why would anyone else? Now to find that common ground where my heart and my subject's heart and my readers' hearts can all connect. Thank you!ReplyDelete
Thanks for inspiring the perfect note-to-self for today, Bethany: 'Find that common thread and use it to connect character (subject), writer, and reader'. What a beautiful definition for 'heart' in biography.ReplyDelete
Thanks for walking that line with us for this post. I appreciate the emphasis on using the tools that all writers use.ReplyDelete
Eager to hear about your "new" subjects. Thanks for your post.ReplyDelete
Wonderful inspiration here. Connecting the hearts of the writer, subject then reader really resonated with me this morning. I've been focusing on the details of the subject - which is appropriate, but doing justice to the subject seems almost one sided without making that connection though to the reader! Thanks for this post.ReplyDelete
I'm at the beginning stages of a biography and love the way you frame and approach the whole process. Thank you for sharing.ReplyDelete
I love the idea of how the author's heart interweaves with that of her subject and the future reader to the enrichment of all of them.ReplyDelete
Thread the needle with your heart and the essence of your subject's life and the reader will connect. How lovely. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
Love that line ~ 'thread the needle'! I have added it to the list of quotes in my Panda Planner.ReplyDelete
Great post! Working in schools, I see so much anger in children that doesn't have an outlet. I'm going to find your Gandhi book. Without tools to channel anger, it manifests in so many negative ways. Thanks for sharing your heart with all of us!ReplyDelete
Bethany, thanks for sharing each of yours! Loved hearing these behind-the-scenes insights.ReplyDelete
Bethany, Thank you for your post. Loved this--in thinking about character development—to “thread the needle” tying together your writer heart, the character heart, and then the heart of the reader. Universal themes pull at all of our hearts.ReplyDelete
So much to love and learn from here! The bio I'm working on now and my future ideas are all subjects that resonate with me deeply. How nice to be affirmed that I'm on the right track! And since I write at a sewing table that belonged to my beloved grandmother and recently dubbed myself a ”wordstitcher, ” the idea of threading the needle to link my heart to that of the subject and reader really resonates! Thank you for this post!ReplyDelete
I love this visual Bethany of threading the needle. Thank you! Be Inspired, Nicki JacobsmeyerReplyDelete
How lovely that you've so succinctly expressed what's at the core of every writer: heart and heart connections. You've affirmed what we should all keep in mind when searching for subjects and when writing about them. Ironically, I use the phrase "thread the needle" with my students to teach them how to connect their thoughts and analysis to their thesis statements! Thank you for your heartfelt post and examples - PriscillaReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing. This was very inspirational!ReplyDelete
I love the comparison to "a fine dance," since the subject of my NF project involves the dance world. There's a deep "why" I'd like to explore, so thank you for highlighting that in your post, Bethany!ReplyDelete
Bethany, as always, inspirational! I love how you explained weaving your own journey into the process. Thank you for your post!ReplyDelete
This is a great way to address a non-fiction PB! I can already see the link between the one I'm currently researching and raising my own children-and my childhood. Thanks for the way to put a personal spin on the story!ReplyDelete
I love the idea of picking a subject that matters to you and finding the "Why". Also what about this person will speak the child reader.ReplyDelete
Wow! This post spoke to me immensely. I think my favorite line is: But that doesn’t mean, that we as the “dancers,” didn’t take them intentionally, planning every footstep and movement.ReplyDelete
I love the image of tying together the story, the hearts of reader, character, and writer. Thanks for the inspiration.ReplyDelete
Wow! This is the perfect way to think about picture book biographies. I am sure many aha moments are happening among NF Fest readers today.ReplyDelete
Great post, Bethany! Thank you for sharing your insights on writing biographies. I love the idea of threading the needle with one’s heart and connecting it to your characters heart and then to the heart of the reader.ReplyDelete
The idea of threading the needle is so powerful--thanks for illuminating how it works for you in nonfiction pieces!ReplyDelete
Bethany, this whole post is so poetic. Thread the needle to draw all the words, stitches, and hearts together so the reader feels it. It is a hard task, but so worth it when it happens. Bios are indeed hard to write if we can't find that connective tissue. TY for you wise words.ReplyDelete
Having a deep connection to the subject does shine through to the reader. I've been cautious to consider how the subject relates to myself in the past and stalled on the projects. Your advice might be just the kick start I need. Thank you!ReplyDelete
Thank you for you wonderful words!!! "We need to be sharing our own personal beliefs, hopes and pains." That really touched me and makes me want to work and write on it in this same moment!!! :-)ReplyDelete
Thanks for making me think through another way into a biography!ReplyDelete
I loved your post, Bethany, especially the part about connecting the "deep why" of the subject, ourselves, and our readers. So important!ReplyDelete
Can't wait to read your book about Jimmy Carter--such an inspiration! And I'm inspired to check out classes at The Writing Barn now.ReplyDelete
Bethany, thank you very much. This post may have given me the in to the bio I've been struggling with. I like your challenge to find how & why the subject touches and matters to us so we can help them matter to our readeres. Thank you!ReplyDelete
Threading the needle mad so much sense to me. Your biographies are among my favorites. Thanks for sharing. Keep up the great writing!ReplyDelete
Inspirational. Presenting the "big questions" to kids might be controversial but it is necessary. Thank you for writing those books and for sharing the process with us.ReplyDelete
I so agree that when we pour ourselves even just a little into the story we are more invested and hopefully that emotion will be on the page for the readers to soak it up.ReplyDelete
Thank you for this. Your discussion and questions relating to the through line will help me greatly with a subject I'm struggling with. I find identifying the through line is one of the hardest parts to writing, but once it is discovered I can create a road map.ReplyDelete
Bethany! I am going to save and print this because it is all the things I want to ensure are in my NF PBs! You are so wise!ReplyDelete
Interesting premise to 'connect your heart with the readers' by starting with a personal connection to your subject. That makes a lot of sense. I think we writers should 'bleed a little' every time we start tapping on the keyboard. Thanks so much for sharing your heartfelt methods of choosing to write about a person whose life and work meant a lot to you. I can see that was certainly true when you wrote 'Grandfather Ghandi'! I have some ideas brewing in my head (and my heart) that I would like to write about so I'll be applying this litmus to help me choose!ReplyDelete
Big THANK YOUS, Bethany!ReplyDelete
Connecting in as may ways as we can. Thank you.ReplyDelete
Bethany, thank you for this clear and insightful post on a challenging topic! I'll carry your words of wisdom into all my writing.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the inspiration and tying it all together!ReplyDelete
"To be drawn to a subject there has to be a 'why'—a deep 'why' for ourselves and our readers."ReplyDelete
This is a great line to drive choosing a topic and when furthering the focus of the narrative. How does it benefit the reader? Why is this story important? What's the universal message we will learn?
Thanks for sharing. I have been wanting to visit The Writing Barn for some time!ReplyDelete
Great post! I had thought about heart, but not about my heart, and certainly not about why that might be important to the story. Thanks for these insights.ReplyDelete
Thank you the deep dive into writing biographies.ReplyDelete
Beautiful explanation of the need to connect the heart of the subject of the biography with the reader's heart...and your own. In the biographies I have written, I start with wanting to know why these persons did what they did. Even Benedict Arnold, whom we view as a traitor, was the general George Washington trusted above every one else, having seen Arnold put superhuman effort into any thing he was asked to do. So why did he change? It's an interesting study in frustrations. Another time I turned down the project because I could not find the soul of that person. Brava, Bethany!ReplyDelete
I have to "believe" in my stories about animals. I am not a scientist, but I believe animals have emotions and "communicate " with us. Life is amazing whether it's human, mammal, insect or whatever.ReplyDelete
So glad you mentioned heart! It's a little like voice to me...hard to pin down exactly what it is but you know when it's there--and when it's missing. Thank you!ReplyDelete
I need that passion and heart to keep me going through the project -- and it helps me define why it's important to me, and therefore (I hope) I can show why it might be important to the reader too.ReplyDelete
Great post, Bethany. Connecting hearts - I love it! This is a wonderful way to describe writing.ReplyDelete
The best stories are those that are personal at some level, whether for the reader or for the writer. Your post highlights once again that the as writers we must listen to the subject to find the heart of their story and connect to that heart at a very deep personal level in order to be able to connect it to our readers.ReplyDelete
". . . to “thread the needle” tying together your writer heart, the character heart, and then the heart of the reader."ReplyDelete
Finding the heart and threading it into the heart of your reader-beautiful! Thank you, Bethany, for this inspiring post.
What a great post, and what a lot to think about. Thanks so much for sharing.ReplyDelete
A great reminder to connect emotionally to our bio subject, so that young readers will connect emotionally, too. Thank you!ReplyDelete
Thanks for your post Bethany, so much info I will need to read it twice!ReplyDelete
I acquired new knowledge today about connecting the subject’s narrative through line to my own.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Bethany.
Bethany, I connected with your entire post and especially this line “We can’t decide the through line ahead of time” because I think this is what I’m struggling with on my WIP. Thanks for the advice. I’ll keep writing and researching.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the great advice about finding the ways we are all woven together.ReplyDelete
You put into words why I want to write about certain people1 And thank you for the reminder: We can’t decide the through line ahead of time.ReplyDelete
Very timely topic, as I've been considering this in the concept of the PB bio I'm currently querying. I think the through line of that project is about resilience, because my subject was a woman and an activist whose ideas were well ahead of her time. With every setback, I remind myself of how she persisted despite naysayers, misogyny, and numerous other setbacks and it deepens my determination to continue telling her story.ReplyDelete
This moved me on so many levels! I appreciate the heartfelt manner with which you approached this topic. I find myself thinking often of the way an author, the subject of a story, and the reader are so intimately intertwined. How our hearts are tied together by a narrative whose through line speaks to our larger desires, hopes, and aspirations -- both social and personal. The last lines of your post were wonderful: "What my heart needs to hear and to heal -- is threaded into each and every biography I write. So, go thread that needle!" Your words inspire me to keep pushing forward with my projects. Thank-you!ReplyDelete
I like it when she describes using writing tools and then "the real magic begins to happen, when we are able to connect the subject’s narrative through line to our own, and then to a deep need our readers may have." A thorough process with a satisfying result.ReplyDelete
“When crafting a biography—you aren’t just telling your subject’s life story—you are sharing a part of your heart. Yours. The authors. And you are working to connect that heart—your heart, your subject’s heart—to the reader’s heart.” What an inspiring post! Thank you!ReplyDelete
Writers are often advised to write from their hearts. Your post went way beyond that advice and showed that we also need to consider the heart of the subject and the heart of the reader as well and find a way to connect them all. What powerful - and touching - advice! Certainly a profound perspective for us to consider. Thank you!ReplyDelete
Threading the needle and making the thread of connection between hearts. Such a perfect metaphor! Perhaps I need an image of a needle and thread on my writing desk to remind me of the work that needs to be done with each story. Thank you!ReplyDelete
What a great idea to start with a personal connection to our subjects! Thank you, Bethany!ReplyDelete
Thank you Bethany for helping us understand threading the needle. Stitching our heart together with the reader and the subject is a great concept. You are so generous to offer one of your classes as a prize. I've heard great things about the Writing Barn.ReplyDelete
Hi Bethany, I read and reread this column and anticipate doing so a few more times. The idea that you have to find a connection with them first is interesting, but I was struck by this section, "How did they become who they became? What obstacles did they face? How did they distinctly persevere? And in doing so we must think about those things for ourselves—what obstacles have we faced, or are we facing?" The idea that you try to find an emotion, cause, challenge that impacted the person you are writing about and that resonates both to you and to the children who will read your book is a great way to make your story relatable.ReplyDelete
Fantastic, uplifting and encouraging post. Being vulnerable as a writer can bring great results. I continued to need to work on this! Thank you!ReplyDelete
Oh, Bethany, what a wonderful post that I need right now! I'm on a rewrite of a biography per professional suggestions and felt stuck until reading this. I hadn't thought about about having faced some of the same obstacles as mc. Thank you, thank you for helping me thread the needle and prick my own heart first.ReplyDelete
This post is pure poetry! Threading the needle - What a beautiful way to describe the heart you put into your books, the intent you have with every word, and the truth you want to share . Thank you Bethany!ReplyDelete
Thank you for the "thought" full post, it is helpful.ReplyDelete
Oh my goodness, what a beautiful post -- and I almost missed it! Thanks for the encouragement to put more of my heart and my caring into the bios I am working on. I think that ingredient is definitely missing. Back to work!ReplyDelete
What a delight to find this after having been to Highlight with you! And very helpful as to what connections I need to make next. thnx-ReplyDelete
This is a wonderful post Bethany. I so connect with writing from the heart and am struck by the fact that 'heart' is why I write, but not necessarily how I write. I'm going to revise my favorite manuscripts with your advice in mind. Thank you.ReplyDelete
This moved me. Thank you for sharing.ReplyDelete
There's so much to think about here. I'm going to have to come back later to read it again. Thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
What a brilliant way to explain your process. Thank you for sharing, Bethany.ReplyDelete
I absolutely love, "go thread the needle." I will remember that takeaway for years to come. Trying to write my first creative nonfiction piece this year so this post was very meaningful to me.ReplyDelete
Of course this makes so much sense! We have to select information to include (which means unfortunately not including a great deal more) and what better way than to seek out those details that resonate. My best writing tends to be on subjects that "speak" to me in some way. I think this may help explain the why.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing! I visualize your post as a quilt-- the heart (of the story) is the applique, the structure is the quilt top, the batting, or "fluff" is the stuff that makes "story" flow and the stitching is like you're own imprint, or way of keeping it all together (your word choice etc).ReplyDelete
I love the direction picture book biographies are taking -- deeper, more intimate portrayals of the people who have paved the way before us. They put a face on history, something all children (and adults) need to see more and more.ReplyDelete
Thank you for tips on using all means to glean information.ReplyDelete
I love the idea of threading the needle - to pull tight the thread of human suffering, human dignity, human change, human hope. Thanks for sharing, Bethany!ReplyDelete
Thank you for this very inspiring, insightful post. I will save to read again as I revisit my drafts.ReplyDelete
I so admire Bethany's body of work and was touched by her comment that we need to prick our hearts and bleed a little. Threading the needle to knit together the author's heart, the subject's heart and the child reader's heart was a new and inspiring way to look at the craft of writing.ReplyDelete
Bethany, I keep hearing your words about connecting the subject's heart,one's heart and the reader's heart. You, books,and the all the courses I've taken at the Writing Barn have enriched me in more ways than I can say.ReplyDelete
That's a lovely idea - "connect the subject’s narrative through line to our own, and then to a deep need our readers have" - true in nonfiction and fiction, I think.ReplyDelete
A deep connection to and heart-feels for the subject of your bio is a must! I think that comes out in my debut biography, so I can attest to what Bethany said.ReplyDelete
You are one of my favorite children's writers. My granddaughter reaches for Alabama Spitfire every time I ask her to pick out a favorite for us to read at bedtime. I love, love, love your approach to making sure the Heart is in the topic you pick. Melanie Vickers
A vey timely post, Bethany! I love the "threading the needle" analogy. I had not heard the author/subject/reader connection described in that way before. Always looking out for those connections!ReplyDelete
I like how you explained your process. Thanks!ReplyDelete
This is like a commencement speech--makes me want to go out and make the world a better place. I think finding this through line is the key to lasting nonfiction. Thanks so much!ReplyDelete
I like the idea of trying to find the connection between the subject and yourself to find the book take away.ReplyDelete
Bethany- I truly enjoy your books and use them as mentor texts, thank you for your valuable contributions. And I love the idea of "threading the needle," genius!ReplyDelete
You have struck a chord in me. I do have that deep connection with my current subject. I am a quilter and understand threading a needle. Thank you for laying out the pieces.ReplyDelete
I love your description of the thread connecting us to the narrative and reader. A beautiful harmony. Thank you.ReplyDelete
This resonates greatly! A post to keep for continued reference. Thank you!ReplyDelete
I love the line of threading the heart from the writer to the subject to the reader. Perfect! Thank you :)ReplyDelete
Thanks for this excellent post, Bethany! I love how you talk about the thread that runs through the writer heart, the character heart, and the heart of the reader. I look forward to reading all your upcoming books!ReplyDelete
Thanks for your excellent examples and tips on heart and connecting. I love your biographies and can feel the heart!ReplyDelete
Thanks for this reminder to find and develop the author/subject/reader connection and for the examples.ReplyDelete
I find my deep identification with the subject of the book sustains me through all the research and writing, and helps me find that salient point: why is this story worth telling, among the millions out there? Conversely, I ask myself before starting: do I care enough to spend months, maybe years on this? Or would it be better in someone else's hands?ReplyDelete
I am so grateful you taught me this early in my nonfiction work. These details resonate even more and help me keep diving deeper and deeper.ReplyDelete
Excellent post. Thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
A reader can feel the heart in each of your books Bethany. Thank you for sharing your process of finding the through line by connecting your subject, yourself as a writer and your audience. This post is a keeper!ReplyDelete
“ Who are the scientists, artists, social justice figures that made you YOU? Start there, with a personal connection.”ReplyDelete
This is so true! Thank you for the reminder!
I like where you say, And we must do all this AND stay true to the facts.Thanks for the post. I love PB biographies.ReplyDelete
As a person who enjoys sewing and creating art with fabrics, the image of "threading the needle" to pull together the heart of the story, the heart of the author, and the heart of readers really rings home. Thank you for sharing!ReplyDelete
Thanks for making this easier than finding a needle in a haystack!ReplyDelete
I think that writing a NF book requires a lot more "heart" than fiction. In the sense that as the writer, one must really be married to the subject, which includes a lot of love & dedication! And if the marriage is strong, that love & heart will definitely shine through the words & art.ReplyDelete
Bethany, this post hit the bullseye, connections of the heart, especially to the reader's heart, is power in nonfiction work. Thanks.ReplyDelete
"The child reader. What do they need in their lives—what about your subject’s life will speak to them, inspire them? What is the impact—the reader takeaway—the emotional “ah-ha” you want to leave the readers with." Sidenote... I had you sign your Harper Lee book at an SCBWI conference last year for my friend who named her daughter, Harper, after Harper Lee. She was so excited when I gave her your autographed and personalized book for Christmas. It was the perfect gift for them. Thank you soooo much!ReplyDelete
I loved learning this "thread the needle" idea. I will try to use your advice and think about my heart, my subject's heart and the reader's heart as I write!ReplyDelete
Wow, Bethany, you explain so beautifully how to get to the heart of a story and the need to tell it from that place where all the hearts interconnect.ReplyDelete
Beautiful explanation! Thank you for sharing how you connect with your stories in order to help readers connect as well.ReplyDelete
Bethany, your passions for writing, teaching, and connecting people shine in this post! Thank you for all you do to build a creative community.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Bethany, for these ideas. They echo my feelings in writing narrative nonfiction as well. Thank you for expressing it so clearly! Your passion shines through!ReplyDelete
Wow, Bethany, thank you for this inspirational post! I love how you've talked about threading that needle and also showing how stories are about so much more if we look deeper.ReplyDelete
So true that connecting with our subjects on an emotional level may not come easily for nonfiction writers. Thanks for your insights.ReplyDelete
Connecting the writer, character, and reader through heart! Brilliant!!ReplyDelete
So much goes into researching a nonfiction bio, finding a subject that speaks to the heart must be the avenue to falling in love with the project.ReplyDelete
Thank you for breaking down how to make real magic happen. Maria JohnsonReplyDelete
Thank you for such a thoughtful post about connecting your heart to the people you write about.ReplyDelete
Beautiful. Thank you Bethany. Your post touched my heart.ReplyDelete
Thank you for your post. I loved your line..."there has to be a "why"—a deep "why for ourselves and our readers!ReplyDelete
A wonderfully thought-provoking post. Thank you!ReplyDelete
Wow, now this I printed out to keep retreading. Thank you so much for your wonderful post on connecting heart to your manuscript! This definitely the piece that holds subject, author and reader together!ReplyDelete
Things that stood out for me...finding that deep connection, then researching, but finding the "ah ha" moment. THank you!ReplyDelete
Very nice post. Great thoughts about being immersed and passionate about your subject.ReplyDelete