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Building a better bio

September 30, 2008

In addition to setting up interviews and figuring out how to actually do them, I also spend some of my time brainstorming about other aspects of this book. I’ve had one in particular on my mind a lot lately: the book’s structure.

At first, it seemed like the best approach would simply be a chronological retelling of the Collective’s history, beginning with its inception and just rolling through. This is a rather unimaginative arrangement, however, and I definitely think I can contribute something better.

The next thing that crossed my mind was taking the sort of approach I would with a newspaper article, typically done in the inverted pyramid style; that is, start with the most important stuff at the beginning and organize all of the information therein by importance. This also seems like it would be genuinely unreadable.

Over the weekend, though, I had an idea for something a little more ambitious: a sort of a choose-your-own-adventure type of deal.

Basically, because everyone involved in the Collective is so interwoven, each person contributing different things to a bunch of different bands, the stories overlap in such a way that a linear narrative is grossly insufficient in providing a full account of the story (or at least what I yet know of it).

On top of this, I have been trying to reconcile my own rationale for writing the book in the first place, something I only want to do if I have a reason beyond “I like these people and the music they make.” I’m certain the story is already interesting enough to appeal to a lot of people; there are plenty who already are already hooked based on the few nuggets they do know. But I badly want this book to appeal to an audience larger than what the E6 already has, which I think will require a remarkable work.

There are a few ways I could go about this. The first would be along the lines of the typical choose-your-own-adventure books, with which the only experience I’ve had was with a couple in the Goosebumps series while I was in elementary school. It would go something like: a chapter about musician A, and then instructions to turn to page X to read about how he played drums on band B’s first record, to page Y to read about how he was the touring flautist for band C, or to page Z to read about how he had a whirlwind relationship with celebrity D.

Or something like that.

Another way would be along the lines of Julio Cortazar’s postmodern tome Hopscotch, which encourages reader to read the chapters in any random order. For this to work, each of the chapters would have to work almost as a stand-alone feature about a different aspect of the story.

A third way would be to ape the meta-fictional structure of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, one of my favorite books ever. The book’s hypertextual (and hyper-intimidating) layout allows the reader to jump all over the place and follow multiple threads at the same time.

At any rate, this seems a rather dense story, wholly unsuited for the vexilla of classical non-fiction writing. If this book is worth writing, it will require some innovation on my part. Which is exactly what I want.

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