Writing a biography requires significant research into the subject’s life story. This article will give you an overview of how to write a biography using some key points to help you on your way. But before we dive in, let’s define a biography.
What is a Biography?
A biography is a prose account of a person’s life. Biographies include information about specific events that occurred throughout the subject’s life. These writeups are often about famous people. It could be an artist, politician, religious or historical figure.
A typical biography is written in the third person, where an individual narrates another person’s life story. If you’re writing a biography essay, below is a guide on how to do it.
Steps for Writing a Biography
|• Pick the subject|
• Get consent
• Decide on the structure
• Create an outline
• Write a draft
• Edit and proofread
Pick the biography subject
A good biography should be interesting and loaded with information. But you can’t write about anyone without considering the person’s background, credentials, and other details. Spend some time asking yourself which subject is most interesting and relevant to your audience.
If the person you’ve chosen is alive, you need to get their permission before starting the writing process. There are sensitive details in someone’s life that shouldn’t be exposed without their consent.
If the subject is dead, get in touch with their family members and ask for their permission. You can also ask someone with links to the person’s close relatives if the immediate isn’t reachable. However, you can always choose another subject if one seems inaccessible; the world has enough famous people.
Do some research on the subject
Spend time researching about the biography subject.
- Search about the person online, look through old magazines and journals they have been in, read any books or articles about them.
- If you can get a list of the person’s publications, read them.
- Visit websites of organizations they have been involved with and get a better feel for their profile.
- The Internet is an excellent place to start researching a biography subject. Check their LinkedIn bio, Twitter bio, and other sources for personal details and relevant information.
- If the person is alive and reachable, interview them and others who can provide juicy and reliable details about them.
- Visit places that the person valued and learn more about them
- Study the period in which they lived and the impact they left
You can write in the form of a book, article, or essay. The way you approach the biography is going to depend on the form you choose. If you’re writing a book, what goes into each chapter is different from the information required for an essay. You can check out other biography essays to have an idea of what yours should look like.
Create an outline
Depending on the structure of your biography essay, create an outline that will order your steps as you write. An outline is a document that lists and defines each topic you plan to cover in the essay. It helps in getting organized and in identifying what you already know about the subject.
Plan each section of your biography
Identify key events in that person’s life and note down all the necessary details under each. These will make the main sections of the biographical essay so that no stone is left unturned and all the important details are captured.
Write the draft
Start writing your draft focusing on the main points of interest about the person. Ensure that everything is in chronological order, with the main life events creating the central theme.
Also, don’t forget to tell the story as if you’re talking to a friend. Use a tone that will keep your readers interested; this is where your creative writing skills are tested.
Edit and proofread
Make sure your biography is free of grammatical errors and factual inconsistencies. If you use any quotes, make sure they’re correctly cited. After your draft is ready, ask someone else to proofread it for you. Get feedback from several readers before submitting the final draft.
Characteristics of a Great Biographical Essay
The following are some characteristics of a read-worthy biography:
|• It captures all major events in the person’s entire life|
• A great biography tells the story of the subject in chronological order
• It benefits from creative writing techniques to make reading interesting
• A good biography essay is free of grammatical errors and factual inconsistencies and uses correct citations where required
• It tells a story that is organized around key events, so readers get the most exciting bits first
• A great biographical essay is easy to read and avoids unnecessary details
• It adheres to the writing structure preferred by your teacher or professor
Tips for Writing a Winning Biography
- Write for the reader and the search engines too
- Consider your word count. A good biography should be at least 500 words. Anything between 1500 and 2000 words is great for most biographies.
- Don’t settle for just the basic facts about someone’s life. Instead, dig deeper for exceptionally captivating details about your subject.
- Use a formal but engaging writing style for the biography.
- Avoid lists unless it’s essential. Stick to narrations
- Don’t forget to use correct citations. This is important mainly if it’s a formal essay for school or college.
- Avoid using the first person. Write in the third person.
- Be careful with your grammar and use simple, concise sentences that are easy to read.
Factors to Consider Before Choosing a Biography Subject
Below are some factors before selecting the autobiography subject:
• Other biographies
• Time available
Biographies are written about famous people whose life stories are interesting and worth telling. Ask yourself if you can write about an important public figure such as a politician or celebrity.
Before deciding who’s worth your time and energy, consider several people and vote on which person you’d like to write about. There’s no point in writing about someone who’s only known to you since others might not be interested.
Think of people whose lives have influenced many lives, such as a famous author, inventor, or activist. The most difficult part in writing a biography is finding the right angle through which the story unfolds and why it matters.
Research your subject well and identify their important lifetime contributions. Depending on your target audience, avoid subjects that will trigger negative emotions in your readers.
Choosing the right audience will make writing easier for you. When writing for adults, it’s challenging to keep the attention of those who grew up with the subject since they know most of the details. It’s best to avoid using colloquial language.
On the other hand, if your biography is written for children, you should focus on creative writing techniques. Avoid too many details that may put off kids since their concentration span is relatively short.
The audience also determines the tone of speech. For example, use informal or formal language depending on who you’re targeting.
Are there other biographies about your subject of interest? If yes, what are they like, and how will yours stand out for the rest? Asking all these questions will enable you to determine your angle and help you decide what information to include or exclude.
Without any research, it’s almost impossible to write a factual and original biography. Check all the primary and secondary sources available to gather as much information as possible.
Consider your time frame before choosing a subject so that you can do justice to their stories. If you have little time to write the biography essay, focus on a famous figure who has inspired many people and is known worldwide. This way, you’ll have adequate materials for reference with less hectic research.
On the other hand, if you have all the time in the world to research and compile a biography, you can choose a less popular subject. In this case, you’ll need to dig deeper and extract all the juicy parts of their lives.
If you’re writing for school or college, choose someone whose life story is interesting and relatable. The target audience should gain something from the biography even if they’re not particularly interested in the subject.
If your biography is for entertainment purposes, you aim to tell a good story that will engage and entertain the reader. The subject of your subject doesn’t need to be super relevant or known by everyone. You can choose anyone as long as you have a unique angle. After all, interesting stories are the ones that will keep readers excited and wanting more.
Writing an Autobiography
An autobiography is a personal biography written by a famous person telling their own story in a personal or professional bio. You can write your own life story with your voice, showing off who you are through the words in your biography. It doesn’t have to be linear, so feel free to deviate from the usual chronological order if necessary.
The memoirs of a celebrity is another form of autobiography that captures events in their life with their perspective.
A memoir is similar to an autobiography, but it focuses on personal events that happened over a short period rather than a whole lifetime. Memoirs are written in the third person, unlike autobiographies that use the first- or second-person point of view.
If done correctly, a personal biography can be a great marketing tool for growing a personal brand. Below are some of the elements that shouldn’t miss in your bio:
- Your education history
- Current role
- Place of residence
- Professional and personal accomplishments
- Passions and hobbies
- Accolades or awards
- Work experience
- Any unique attributes and skills
- Contact information
- Goals and aspirations
- Personal website link
Steps for writing own biography
Every biography starts with an introduction. If you want to keep things simple, use a bio template that opens with a two- to three-sentence introduction followed by the rest of your profile details.
The first sentence of your bio is crucial because it determines if the reader will continue to read your profile or not. It should be interesting enough for them to click on your name and see what else you have to offer.
Write your second sentence in a way that leaves the reader wanting more. You can try asking a question they might have or giving them a teaser about what your next sentence will cover.
Write the body
Once you’ve grabbed the reader’s attention with your intro, it’s time to embark on your life story. Anything goes in this section, so feel free to get creative and write whatever you want! You can include personal anecdotes, your favorite quotes or memories, whatever suits your purpose.
In conclusion, briefly state your career goals and current position. It’s a good idea to include your contact information as well if you have an online presence. This way, they have a place to reach you easily instead of going back and forth between your page and theirs.
Include some links!
A biography is only as good as the audience’s ability to find it. To ensure your article reaches a wider audience, include links to your social media accounts or website in your bio. You can also link to any other articles you have published on the same topic.
Here are some more tips on writing a biography:
- Your bio should be straight to the point. There’s no need for flowery language or complicated vocabulary.
- Make your bio real and relatable. There’s no point in creating something that doesn’t resemble your authentic self. No matter how much you have achieved, your audience still needs a story they can relate to and appreciate.
- If you don’t have enough material to write about, you can include an “about me” section. This gives you more flexibility because there are no rules on what to write in this part.
- Avoid writing long paragraphs because it can be exhausting for the reader to read. A paragraph should contain roughly 3-4 sentences.
- Use bullet points if necessary to make your bio easier to read.
- If you want, you can include some funny stories in your life story. A little humor goes a long way in making your profile more memorable.
- At the end of your biography, give them an easy way to contact you. Include your name, email address, and any social media accounts you want them to see.
Writing a biography can be challenging, mainly because it involves people’s lives. It’s non-fictional, so you have to get all the facts right. Also, you need to tell a compelling story that will keep your readers hooked from beginning to end.
The need for thorough research cannot be over-emphasized. If you accidentally leave out some details or include fake ones, it could hurt your career or academic scores. It’s therefore important to double-check all the facts before you publish anything.
Start working on your biography essay as early as possible to avoid a last-minute rush. You’ll also have adequate time for research, writing, and proofreading. The guidelines provided here will help you write a biography that is interesting and informative.