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Hello! Thanks for taking time to answer my question. I like to write short stories and have been told that I am pretty good at it, so I have decided that I will tackle the mountain after the short story...the novel. I understand that it is hard work, and I am dedicated to it. I have been toying around with the idea of a fictional biography or autobiography about a person that I would make up. I want it to be comical, but also have to be marketable to be published. I have considered a main character (or subject of the "biography") to be such things as an actor, writer, TV talk show host, etc. and I would be writing about the zany things that go on in his or her life. I was wondering how I should go about writing this and what type of research should I do? Are there any other books of this type that I could read for as an example? Do you think this type of book would be marketable? Thanks in advance for your help!

Answer
Dear Ryan:

"...and have been told that I am pretty good at it,..."

1) Literary arts, like all of the Fine Arts are rife with rejection.  When you have spent a year or longer sweating out your first book, or your tenth book, and you can't even secure an agency reading, being "pretty good" is going to feel like riding a motorcycle at one hundred miles per hour and crashing head-on into a brick wall.  At the least, you must go into this game knowing for yourself that you are excellent - not because you've heard from others that you are pretty good.

"...I have been toying around..."

2) Writing a book length subject - any subject - requires intense passion.  Do you have a strong image that you feel absolutely compelled to share with the world?  Is sharing it through writing the only muse that will satisfy?  Don't toy, diddle, mess about, fool around with, or otherwise fritter away your time.

"...I have been toying around with the idea of a fictional biography or autobiography about a person that I would make up...."

3)  "Fictional" and "I would make up" are redundant phrases.  Also, "would" is passive rather than active.  In the interest of showing you how to rewrite your work, I will rewrite this sentence for you.  "I have an idea for a fictional biography."

"...such things as an actor, writer, TV talk show host..."

4) People are not "things."

"...I was wondering how I should go about writing this and what type of research should I do?"

5)  Good then!  Along with reading books on the craft of writing and taking classes in style and usage, I suggest reading biographies on famous actors, writers, and talk show hosts.  You may wish to take out a short subscription to VARIETY and one or two other trade publications to get a feel for the industry.  

For examples of autobiographical fiction, I suggest Henry Miller, James Baldwin, Celine, Jack Kerouc(SP?), James Brautigan(SP?), Phil Roth, Twain, etc.

6)  Other research?  Research how to structure a novel, or any dramatic story.  I will give you a start: learn about the three-act structure.

7)  I can't answer to the book's marketability in a constantly fluctuating market.  I can say that eventually - this could be before or after your death - quality does find an audience.  Your quality, as of the writing of your letter to me, is not up to snuff.

My best,
Youngbear Roth, Executive Editor
The Success Trust Literary Family
http://www.successliterary.com

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M.L. 'Max' Roth, Executive Editor

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My specialist area is literary and philosophical fiction. I am pleased to answer all queries regarding story, plot, character arc and development, environment, structure, theme, subtext, and conflict.

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