Biographical information is an important element of writing, for many different reasons.
If you’re carefulnot to make too much of it, the biography of an author might tell you something about his or her work. Biography can be a powerful nonfiction technique, and it can also generate some interesting fiction.
One of my favorite fictional biographies is Bjorn Larsson’s Long John Silver: The True and Eventful History of My Life of Liberty and Adventure as a Gentleman of Fortune and Enemy of Mankind, which includes references to the events of Treasure Island from Silver’s perspective. In one of my favorite nonfiction books, The Fall of the Dynasties: The Collapse of the Old Order, 1905-1922, Edmond Taylor uses a lot biographical information on important turn-of-the century European figures to explore the causes of World War I.
Then we have autobiography. I often incorporate autobiographical information into my blogging, especially when I’m talking about a big issue or a set of abstract ideas. I find that readers respond to those posts more positively if I can find a way to personalize them. In this post, for example, I explain my vision for the blogs I’m involved with. I frame it as a conversation between Diana and I because I think that makes it more interesting, and above all, more readable than it would be otherwise.
I consider most autobiography to be creative nonfiction, because when one is writing about oneself, it’s nearly impossible to keep from taking at least a small amount of license with the facts as they actually occurred. Many of my favorite blog posts are pieces that read like memoirs.