Is writing a novel or biography difficult? Yes, many writers are dizzy because they are required to include many fragments or fragments of the story into one script. How is the connection? That’s the basic question.

I experienced this myself. When providing services to , I always get lots of pieces of the story. The more I dig, the more things that go into my voice recorder.

Whether it’s the informant’s childhood, touching and sometimes tragic events, times of joy, and so on. Not to mention if the informant — for example married not only once — wow! The story is piling up. Just so you know, when I wrote Hartini’s memoir, an ODHA, she has been married five times to five unique men.

You must have experienced the same case when . The more so if the characters are five or more. There are many stories and fragments that reproduce each other, the twists are getting more exciting but you are also getting more confused: how do you put together a story that looks like a puzzle?

Ignore when you are a senior and understand how.

A tip for those of you who are dizzy, try to list first how many fragments or pieces of events / scenes you want to include. Is it 10, 25, or 50s?

Think of the pieces of the story as empty islands. Think simple, that is, build the island first. Starting from large islands or important fragments. Take a week and two weeks to build each island.

In the biography, the island can be in the form of birth, childhood, adolescence, courtship, early marriage, divorce, remarriage, the period of successful pioneering, the period of maternal grandchildren, and so on.

You know, it turns out like a lot of short stories, right? YES. How to arrange it later? Hush, close your eyes (first) to the bridge!

Remember, you focus on the island first. Complete the stories in the biography or novel as neatly as possible. Sort out which is the main story and which is the side story. Which makes the main character change and move his life and which involves more companion characters. Everything you write and complete like you make a short story.

Already …? After the island is built, then think about the bridge or the sea highway.

You can combine two islands with a forward plot or flashback plot, the character wanders into the past, or add the scene of the character opening an old photo album remembering her ex-husband or looking at an ancient oven to bring a story to the early days of starting a bakery business, and so on.


How do I apply this principle in finalizing biographical manuscripts? Of course, it is very applicable.

Like the standard procedure that I use when providing biographical , the steps are:

Step one: I have a meeting with the main source, namely the character of the story. This is the best moment for me as a biographer to hear a glimpse of his story in full. I took about 2 hours to record the story. I don’t ask many questions, I let the client tell A to Z stories.

Step two: I will replay the recorded interview with the biographer. I started working on the story line. Looking for the cause and effect of every piece of his life story. Looking for important figures who form his life story.

The third step: I apply the steps above. I made a table and began to write down each fragment of the biographical character’s life in coherence and detail. To write 160 pages, I tried to find 80–100 fragments of his life. With the assumption, one fragment only needs 2 pages of the story.

Step four: I started “blindly” making short stories 2 pages long based on the tapes. If the content is lacking, I will hunt for material by conducting interviews again and again.

Of course, the 80–100 fragments of the story will be added and added when I do the second, third, fourth and fifth interviews. The more you do it, the more fun it is and don’t be surprised if a 160-page writing plan can turn into 300 pages or more.




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Jenica Dietz

Jenica Dietz

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