Posts Tagged ‘biography’

Leonardo da Vinci has fascinated me for a very long time, so when I learned of Walter Isaacson’s biography of the quintessential Renaissance Man, I snapped it up. The hardcover edition is a hefty tome, not merely by virtue of its 624 pages, but also because of the heavy coated paper, employed to better display the many color plates and illustrations that are scattered throughout the book.

Isaacson’s analysis of Leonardo’s life, personality, virtues, and faults, is engagingly warm and human, bringing the deified icon of the Italian Renaissance back down to earth. That Leonardo was a genius is not in dispute—his wide-ranging expertise on everything from anatomy to optics to engineering to painting to architecture provide ample proof of his genius—but he was a flawed one, given to bouts of vanity, arrogance, self-doubt, and impatience. His reputation as a master of science and art was matched by his reputation for failure: commissions repeatedly went unfinished, and projects dragged on and on until patrons found someone else to fulfill their needs. (more…)

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Dragons AheadI am a terrible businessman.

Last week, I submitted my outline for the proposed Fairbanks biographical novel. Along with the actual outline/synopsis, I sent a letter explaining some of the decisions that went into its creation. The family only has experience with writing non-fiction works about the life of their patriarch, sculptor Avard Fairbanks, so I felt it prudent to provide them with some insight into the differences between that and a work of biographical fiction. I also provided them with a quote of costs and timelines that was more realistic than the ball-park estimate I provided them early on. Along with this, I strongly encouraged them to do some research into ghost-writers, to confirm that my quote was not out of line.

The response was good, but measured. They were very pleased with the outline, but the details of costs and timelines introduced a strong dose of reality to the discussion.

This is as I believe it should be but, as I said, I am a terrible businessman. (more…)

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Dragons AheadI am an outliner, and right now, I’m damned glad of it.

Prior to beginning a project, I create a fairly extensive outline. Some writers prefer a more organic method; they set up a character in a conflict and write to see where it takes them.

If I were a writer like that, this project would be a nightmare. I wouldn’t know where to start. As it is, though, I knew precisely where to start: with an outline.


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Dragons AheadI have discovered a corollary to Parkinson’s Law. If you don’t know, Parkinson’s law is:

Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

My discovery, which I shall call the Researcher’s Corollary to Parkinson’s Law, is:

Research material expands to exceed the time available.

In my experience, the factor by which this material expands (aka the KRAG Coefficient) ranges anywhere from 50–100%, but in theory, it’s an open-ended scale.


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Rain, by Avard FairbanksAs regular readers have deduced, my current WIP, The Wolf Tree, has been languishing, left untended due to a variety of life events. I should probably call it a “work-in-stasis” rather than a work-in-progress. Now it’s official: The Wolf Tree is on the back burner.

The reason: I received an email asking if I’d like to write a book.

As a self-identified author, I’ve received pitches like this before: a guy has a “great idea” for a book, and all I have to do is outline it, write it, edit it, market it, sell it, and then (of course) give him a cut of the profits as payment for the use of his great idea. Win-Win, right?

Wrong. (more…)

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