Made in America

Three Biography Writing Tips

There are certain people and situations that take place in history that evoke emotions within us and leave a lasting impression in our lives.

Sometimes, we become so interested in these people that want to learn as much as we possibly can about their lives. Sometimes, our curiosity will lead us to a point where we want to write a biography –an account of that person’s as written by someone else.

If you’ve identified a person in history whose life is so rich in detail and filled with amazing facts that you want to memorialize it in a biography, we have three quick and simple guidelines to help you get started.

Is it worth it?

Before you begin writing, you’ll want to ask yourself a very important question: “Is it worth it?” Of course, writing a book will always be worth it because you’ll be expressing yourself in a way that many can say they never have and likely never will. However, this doesn’t mean that you should write a book for the sake of writing a book. Before you begin, you’ll want to make sure that person that will be the main focus of your writing merits an entire book. Is there enough information available for you to write this biography? Do other biographies about this person already exist? If so, how will you make yours different? If not, how will you be the pioneer on this subject? Who will want to read this book? Identifying your target audience is imperative when writing a biography because you’ll be writing for an audience that’s larger than yourself who are interested in the same person. There are many aspects that are involved in writing a biography so before you dive in, do your research and take your time.

Where do you start?

It can feel a bit overwhelming when you finally sit down to map out your course of action for a biography. But the most important step to getting started is ironing out the must-have details in the biography. A biography is just like any other book; you have to have a series of events that work together and make sense to the reader. Cohesion and a well-thought-out plan will help your readers understand the importance of the information that they are reading. As the author, you’ll have to determine how much or how little you’ll want to include in the book. The basics are a necessity, so here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Date and place of birth and, if applicable, the date and place of death.
  • Major life achievements. What is this person’s claim to fame?
  • Background information on where this person received their education. Did this play a role in shaping them into the person that they became?
  • What did this person do for a living?

Get to work.

Writing a biography is a different kind of beast. Unlike a fictional novel where you can pull ideas out of your mind and put them on paper to create an enticing and attention-grabbing plotline, a biography requires discipline, factual information, and the ability to take even the smallest of details and engagingly infuse them into the overall narrative. Biographies require extra work to ensure sure that the information you’ve included is factual and viable enough to put into your book. Taking good notes and jotting down every bit of information that you’ve uncovered in your endeavors will help you in the long run.

When researching, you’ll probably uncover information in bits and pieces. You likely won’t unearth information in a chronological, or even necessarily logical, sequence. But remember that a biography requires the author to be thorough and diligent. It takes a fair amount of time and energy to piece a biography together, but when you’re done, the feeling of success and validation that you’ve climbed to the top of such an illustrious mountain will make all the hours of researching and writing worth it.

Keep checking the Dorrance blog for more posts with helpful writing tips in 2017.

Copyright Dorrance Publishing, 2017

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