How to Write a Biography

08.07.17

Writing a biography isn’t brain surgery but sometimes it’s hard to write about someone’s life. I’m a writer so it comes easily to me to know what you should or should not put in an essay. Just because it’s easy for me, however, doesn’t mean that it’s not excruciatingly difficult for you. Whether you have to write a biography for school or you just felt like writing one about some famous (or not so famous) person you like, I’ll show you how to do it. A biography can be as short as a few well orchestrated paragraphs or as long as a 300 page book but, in the sake of my free time, I’ll sum up what you should do.

Birth

Start your biography off where the person started off, their birthplace. Talk about the city they were born in, the actual building (be it a hospital, the backseat of a taxi, or a log cabin in the middle of the forest somewhere), who the person’s parents were, and any interesting notes about the birth itself (born with a tail that was soon cut off is a real page turner).

Growing Up

Next, you’ll need to address how the person grew up and where. Did he or she move around alot? Did they get into some trouble with the law at an early age? How about an early history of drug abuse? Did one of their parents die when he or she was a kid? These are all important things to include in a biography. Kindergarten teachers often wonder where their students are going to end up in twenty or thirty years. How many of them will go to prison? How many of them will die at an early age. Will one of them be president someday? The good thing about history is that we already have these answers. By going back and looking at how the child grew up, we can use those behaviour patterns to address who the kids of today will be tomorrow.

Education

Now that you’ve gotten through the childhood and teenage years, you can focus on their education. Was it Yale or Harvard that they went to? Did they even go to college? Many of the greatest minds in human history had little more formal education than a seventh grader. It seems that the true geniuses of our society prefer to work alone and teach themselves about life’s greatest wonders. Sometimes, you can figure out where a person is headed in life based on their high school records; sometimes you can’t. Either way, its good to include all of their education in your biography because that makes up a good amount of their training in life skills. It’s also a good page fluffer when you don’t have anything else to write about.

Relationships

Another key factor that shouldn’t be left out is the relationships that the person entered into in their later years. Talk about whether the person was married and if they were married multiple times. If they were, in fact, married multiple times, talk about why the previous marriages failed. Talk about the person’s closest friends. Talk about their children and whether their children are still alive or not. Talk about any relationship the person has ever had. One date can change a person’s entire perspective on life and, therefore, impact that person’s decisions, goals, and achievements.

Ambitions

After you cover the other stuff, move onto their ambitions. Ambitions don’t have to be fulfilled achievements or anything that they even came close to completing in real life but ambitions are very important in the adventure to form an opinion of the person in question. Nikola Tesla, for example, was a brilliant man who tamed electrical forces more than anyone else in history at a time when little was known about the powerful forces of nature. At the time, Thomas Edison was the leader of electrical power generation and owned the biggest company that supplied direct current to the world. Tesla, born in a place known as the Croatian Military Frontier, a place where the men were forced into military service from the age of 16 to 66, dreamed of harnessing the power of Niagra Falls. Hellbent on achieving that goal, Tesla invented hundreds of devices and made astonishing breakthroughs in the field of electricity along the way. Many people focus on the achievements of men but fail to recognize the root ambitions that drive that person to greatness. Ambitions, in my opinion, are just as important, if not more so, as achievements.

Achievements

Next comes the things that the person in question was best known for. What did they do? Why are they famous? Was Ronald Reagan famous for his love for horses or was it because he tore down the Berlin Wall? Was Nikola Tesla famous for fixing Thomas Edison’s electrical equipment or because he discovered alternating current? These things are important. These things are what made that person significant enough for you to write a biography about them. Write about whatever you can find out about them. The more significant, the better.

Death

Generally, this is the part of the biography where you talk about the person’s retirement and death or you end it with what the person’s up to today if they’re still alive. If the person did die, you have to two ways of presenting the information: You can either 1) end it with a bang and go out in a tragic conclusion or 2) you can simply let the story drift off into a sad telling of the decline of a role model. Either way, the curtains must close and the story must end but the person’s life and the actions they took will live on to influence others.

That’s where your biography comes in. When other people read the biography you have written, they’ll remember the person in question and know a little bit more about them (and themselves) at the end of the day. I hope your biography is a success and that by reading this article, you now have the expertise you need to reach the best seller’s list.

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