Simply put, a biography is the story of someone’s life.
Writing it so that others may read it is not as simple as its definition though because some people would consider biographies to be one of the most boring types of literature. You would therefore need to combat that, and this is done by making the life story interesting.
No, you do not make it interesting by making stuff up! Here are a few tips you can do to make the whole book interesting for the reader:
1) Be interested in the person you are writing about:
It would be counter productive to write about a person who you would be disinterested in to begin with. If you are interested in the person you choose to write about, then it would be easier for you to do research on the person and find out more about his life. Also, you would naturally be able to write in an interested tone, which would also influence the reader’s approach to your subject matter.
2) Get your basic facts straight:
It is important to make sure that the basic information regarding your subject is as accurate as possible. The basic information would be items such as date of birth, place of birth, date of death (if applicable). Biographies could also be considered as relevant sources of information, and they need to be fully credible.
3) Obtain firsthand information:
There is primary and secondary information. Primary would be items such as journals, diaries and interviews with either the subject or those closely related to the subject. These are very important sources as they would provide insights regarding your subject, his frame of mind as well as his personal opinions about people and situations. Secondary information would be articles regarding your subject. They could relate certain events, but would not really give anything else.
4) Decide what to highlight:
The life of your subject may be interesting, but some events may be more interesting than others. Also, events during childhood may have influenced his decision making in the future. If his actions during a certain point in his career make him interesting, concentrate on events throughout his life that prepared him to handle that situation. This would build the book up and make the whole story linked from start to finish. It would also help to insert some anecdotes in between life changing events.
5) Describe a lot:
The people who read the biography would not be familiar with the person you are writing about. Be sure to describe him as much as you can. His physical features, his face, his expressions, even his habits that make him stand out from the rest. This would make him more human to the readers. Do the same for some of his close friends. If you do forget the name of one or two people in his life, do not make names up. Instead, substitute if for a title such as mate, close friend or even a rank if they were in the military.
The key to successfully writing a good biography is planning. The book cannot contain every single event of a person’s life, so planning the events that you would want to put in would make it so much easier for you when you get to the writing phase. If you do get the outline done, then you would not really have to be concerned about writer’s block, since you would already know where to start.
One more thing that you can do, whenever you finish a portion of the story, read it out loud. This would give you a sense of the rhythm that your readers will have when they pick up the book. If it seems too staccato, then you may want to re-write the portion. If not, then you know that you’re a step close to releasing a good biography.
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