Chronology or memoir?

If somebody asked you to write a biography tomorrow, how would would begin?

Most of the ones I’ve read begin in one of three main ways. They are (a) chronology, (b) flashback, or (c) memoir.

The chronology begins on the day the main character was born, and follows her forward through her life. There’s no skipping forward or backward. It’s kinda like writing by following a calendar. There’s no rewind.

A flashback might start with an award being received or an accomplishment celebrated. Then, the story flashes back to earlier events in the person’s life than brought him to that high point. (I’ve seen many movies use that technique.)

A memoir is typically episodic. It often skips around, discussing major events that affected the person’s life. To me, it’s the most entertaining to read. It allows the writer the freedom to move forward, backward, or anywhere in the person’s life that provides entertainment or makes a point.

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Rix Quinn

Rix Quinn is a former magazine editor and now a syndicated columnist for over 100 weekly newspapers. He holds degrees from Texas Christian University and California State University.

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