"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

San Francisco Review of Books: 'Your VIP Biography: How to Write Your Autobiography to Land a Hollywood Deal' by Alinka Rutkowska and Kenneth Atchity

‘You oughta be in pictures!’ – and making it happen

Co-authors Alinka Rutkowska and Kenneth Atchity are both significant personas and writers in their own right, and their joining forces has resulted in publishing that special book every writer wants to find – how to write important character biographies, including (inhale, breathe) our own autobiography! Alinka is not only a best selling author but also a coach to many writers, ably sharing her experience and skills with writers around the world, as well as being CEO of Leaders Press. Kenneth is a producer and author, a “story merchant,” editor, speaker, career coach, columnist and professor of comparative literature. Strong combo, very strong results.

In the flavorful Foreword, Kenneth states, “A life is a story when it has a compelling beginning, a conclusive and satisfying ending, and a middle filled with unexpected twists and turns, highs and lows, happy breaks and dismal setbacks. If you’ve led a life like that, if you’ve taken an extraordinary path we would like all to know about, then this book is for you.’ A fine invitation and what follows in this book is a key to the door of opportunity.

Alinka and Kenneth share examples of successful memoirs that have become both best sellers and successful movies, and in outlining the aspects of these winners, they instruct us how to get there, from basic information about what constitutes a ‘memoir’ – the definition (and meaning) of Character, Conflict, Structure, Theme, Secondary story elements, and all aspects of the ingredients necessary in creating a memoir. Once defined, and supplemented with outstanding examples of successful memoirs we all know (Angela’s Ashes, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Glass Castle, The Pursuit of Happyness), they then guide us as to how to make it all happen in book form – and getting that book form cinematically friendly.

This is not only a fun read, a journey of its own to read, including the impressive and substantial ‘Entertainment Business and Story Market Glossary of Term,’ but it also is a very practical course in writing by two highly respected authors. Highly Recommended.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. 
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