How to Write a Biography

A biography details a person’s life and achievements. Though many people find this genre boring, penning a good biography with an exciting subject and facts will make readers enjoy them. In this article, we will teach you how to write a biography that will catch your readers’ attention.

1. Select a Subject

Before deciding who to write about, you must consider the subject’s life and professional accomplishments. Even if the facts may only appease some, be sure that those interested will get a good treat.

When writing about a celebrity or famous person, you will have more content and a bigger audience. However, you will need to ensure that your version stands out from the rest of the stories about the individual. Moreover, celebrity biographies require a lot of details since many people want to know about the individual’s personal life.

If your subject is not a public figure, you may need to narrow down the information that will capture people’s attention. Nevertheless, a glimpse of their routine and lifestyle may also inspire others.

Tip: When writing a biography about a deceased person, you must consult with their friends and close family members first. You should also consider the amount of material you will need and how easy it will be to find them.

2. Conduct Thorough Research

a person conduct a biography research in the library

Be prepared to perform thorough research about your subject’s life details. Apart from basic facts, such as date of birth, full name, and residence, you should dig for intimate details like personal (childhood, marital status, passions, etc.) and professional life (career, job title, accomplishments, and credentials). 

Tip: Always seek permission from your subject before beginning your research. If you choose not to consult the individual or relatives, you should verify and double-check all your data before publishing. If anything seems untrue, vague, or defamatory, the individual might press charges, placing you in trouble.

So, where do you get these details? You have two options – primary sources and secondary sources.

The primary sources are firsthand accounts, guaranteeing the most reliable information about the person. These will include one-on-one interviews, the subject’s diaries, journal entries, emails, and memoirs.

The individual’s social media accounts like Instagram and Linkedin may also help you find information about their activities and events.

On the other hand, secondhand sources are from magazines, documentaries, or even stories other people give about your subject.

In most instances, the sources gather information from firsthand or other secondhand resources. Therefore, you should vet these sources since you may find them exaggerated or biased. Before using it for your work, you should also consider the source’s credibility.

3. Prepare an Outline

Your outline choice is crucial since it determines how well the information will flow together. 

  • Chronological Order: This standard strategy makes writing very simple since you can easily list the main agendas. After that, you will need to fill in the details using the information you have.
  • Thematic: The first thing you should do is group your information per theme. Each bullet point will then become a section to explain a specific area of the person’s life. 

Tip: Media res is also an alternative format, though not very well known. This design begins in the middle of the story and then takes you back to past events. From there, you will go forward till the most current situation. This dramatic flow makes the biography unique and catchy.

4. Write the First Draft

Once you determine where each information will go, it’s time to add meat to the bone structure. Here are some tips: 

  1. You should ensure that your statements are rich, catchy, and portray the nature of the individual. 
  2. Always consider your audience and use the language that fits them. If you are targeting the learned and sophisticated, use formal statements. However, if your readers are casual, hip, or even children, consider using a friendly, conversational, but factual tone.
  3. Depending on your preferred writing style, fill in the detailed accounts from your resources in each section. Write short and to-the-point statements that build on each other. 
  4. Avoid jargon that will cause the readers to keep searching for meaning away from the story. You should consider including an explanation whenever you use a term that is not in the English language.

Expert Tip: An important aspect to note is that biographies are not written in the first person. They should be in the third person. Since you will be writing about someone else, you should narrate their story and events as an observer, not an active participant. Nevertheless, remember to make the message exciting and easy to read.

5. Proofread and Edit Your Draft

an editor proofreading a biography manuscript

Once you complete your draft, take some time to breathe, clear your mind, and come back for proofreading and editing. 

Ensure that you remain within the outline you chose. Confirm the workflow from beginning to end and whether the themes correlate and build each other. You should also check whether you have exhaustively handled every section and add any missing details.

Another critical aspect of the assessment is checking for grammatical and typing errors. Remember, every minor detail matters and portrays your keenness invested in your work.

Once you are sure that everything is in order, you can create the final draft with the necessary editing, fonts, and spacing. Read through the final copy and gauge whether you have met the goal of writing the biography.

6. Ask For Feedback

Before you release your final work for the world to read, you should seek a second opinion about the biography. 

The first option is to hire a professional book editor to review your work. Their experience, skill, and eye for detail can ensure your book is readable, grammatically correct, and meets publishing standards. 

Another option is to ask a neutral person, whether a friend or relative, to read the biography and give you an honest review. 

If you’ve asked for permission to write the biography, you should let your subject or his/her relatives read and critique your work. This way, they will let you know if inaccurate or sensationalized details exist in the book. 

You can ask for sections, lines, or chapters from your work that they feel may misrepresent them or may be too personal to publicize. This sometimes arises when you include failures, mistakes, or incidences that may paint a wrong picture. 

Tip: This consultation avoids future problems when the concerned people raise concerns about published content. Be sure to give an exclusive copy to the active participants before releasing the rest in the market. If you make an ebook, you can also send it to them in advance.

Getting Your Biography to the Shelves

Now that you know how to write a biography, it is time to release it to the shelves. You have three publishing options depending on the available resources, target audience, and existing fan base. 

 If you are self-publishing, ensure that you use a suitable marketing technique to help you get the attention of your prospective audience.


This post was proofread by Grammarly. Try it - it's FREE!

Capitalize My Title is a dynamic title capitalization tool used to make sure your titles or headlines use proper capitalization rules according to various style guides include APA, AP, MLA, and Chicago. It also counts your words and checks for grammar issues.

1 COMMENT

  1. The other factor when choosing a “subject” is the subject. In other words, answer the question “What is this life about?” If you cannot answer that question, you won’t tell a compelling story. For instance, if the story is about a tragic life of emotional slaver to one manipulator after another, then everything you write should lead to that theme or provide context for it. If you cannot articulate what the life is about, you will write disconnected chapters, disconnected paragraphs.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here