Posts tagged How to Write a Biography
A biography is a document that contains the detailed account of a person’s life. It highlights the story of a person’s life. The Biographies can be short comprising of only few sentences, or they can be very big to cover an entire book or a series of books. The short biographies are intended for telling the basic facts related to the person’s life and their importance in the society. While the longer biographies highlight the basic information with in depth coverage of person’s life and experiences.
Biographies comprise of analysis and interpretation of the events occurred in the person’s life. They contained the in depth description of the various interesting events, unexpected actions, mysteries, accomplishments or life activities. Biographies are written about the popular or infamous people. However, a biography of a particular person tells us a lot about the living or dead celebrities. Usually the format of biography is such that it is written like a story of the person’s life that begins from the birth and then move forward with passage of time. The events that occurred in the person’s life are presented in the chronological order. It also focuses a lot around some important event in person life and based on a particular theme as well. It targets specific topics or accomplishments.
There are primary and secondary resources used by the biographers for writing the biography. The primary sources comprise of letters, diaries, or newspaper accounts and the secondary source include histories, biographies, reference books, that offer the information about the person in detail.
To begin writing a biography you should choose a person whom you are interested in. You should gather as much information as possible about the person from various primary and secondary sources available. You should find about the basic facts of the person’s life by looking into the encyclopedia.
You should find the answers to the following questions related to the profile of the person.
What makes this person special or interesting?
What examples from their life illustrate those qualities?
What events shaped or changed this person’s life?
What kind of effect did he or she have on the world?
You should prepare a detailed list of questions and then start finding the answers to them. Once you have the sufficient information in place, you can start writing a biography.
The biography can be structured in variety of formats and there are no strict rules that are set for writing biography. Most of the time the author only keep in mind that his story needs to be in narrative format and should be interesting enough to engage the audience. There are some formats that are widely practiced for writing biography and it includes the following.
(1) Chronological format – This format of writing biography consists of the description of the various events of the person’s life in a particular time order from birth and to youth and in later years. It is easy to follow this pattern as it only requires you to put the gathered information as per the timelines in person’s life.
(2) Themes based chapters – This format is quite unique and such biography comprises of various different sections that are devoted to a particular theme. Some of these themes include the achievements, true loves, mentors, lucky breaks, biggest mistakes, travels, etc.
(3) Free form layout – Biographies that follow the free form layout are usually humorous in tone like the performing arts personalities.
(4) Straight Narrative format – This format is also widely practised where a biography unfolds in the form of a story telling by the author. Some of the sections may have direct Questions & Answers that are obtained during the interview.
Before beginning to writing a biography, you should decide about the format you would like to follow. You should ensure that your format should sound interesting for your readers.
Autobiography – It is different from the biography in a way that it is written in the first person as contrary to the third person in case of biography. It is preferred by those persons who would like to pen down the interesting experiences of their life and share with the world their life. Such persons may not be good writers by themselves, but they can hire a ghost writer for writing their memoirs.
Once you have decided about the subject about whose life you are going to portray, the next step is to do proper research about the subject for gathering the information. It is very time consuming part and you need to ensure that your research and judicious fact-checking allows you to get the accurate data from various possible sources.
To do a proper research and collection of relevant information, you will be required to document the sources for footnotes and bibliography. It helps you in managing your information and allows you to check the items that you may have misread.
You should make good use of both the primary and secondary sources for completing your research. You should go for those sources that are credible and have proven record. You should not base your biography from the information contained in the previous blogs about subjects or previous written text.
In case you can get the chance of interviewing the person then you should give it top priority as you will get to know about the life of the person directly from himself/herself. The interviews can be done over the phone, email or in person. You should prepare well for gathering all the relevant facts before the interview.
You can also record the in person interviews and phone calls so that you can also use the exact words spoken by the subject.
You should also make it a point to allow the interviewees to read their contributions before publishing the biography. It may help them to add few more interesting comments and events that they may have forgotten earlier.
You should also ensure to get the legal written permission from the subjects regarding using their interviews in the book.