How to Write a Biography

Letter Cubes that spell LIFE_BiographyA biography is a series of events and milestones that make up a person’s life and is written by someone other than the subject person. Including the good times, as well as tragedies and fate and fortune the subject experienced will make the story compelling.

Research is the Key

Writing a biography requires research and relying on information from other people, including the subject person, if possible, and other published sources, if available. To be as accurate as possible, the information must be verified by more than one source.

There are basic details to be included in the biography, and they are the date and place of birth and death date if that has occurred, information about the subject’s family, major accomplishments and lifetime achievements and their impact and effect on family, community and society.

When possible, interview family members, friends and associates of the subject person. Interviews can be conducted in person, by telephone, through email or postal mail. Keeping a recorded or written record of the interview will safeguard your work and provide the necessary documentation if anything is called into question.

Only use information that is available to the public or information that you have permission to use. This will save you from a possible lawsuit.

Authorized versus Unauthorized

Authorized biographies are written with the permission of the subject or the subject’s family or other appointed entity if the subject is no longer living. An unauthorized biography is one written without permission, and the information contained in it isn’t necessarily accurate or even correct. Authorized versus unauthorized is important for two reasons.

  1. If an already published, authorized biography will be part of the research, the chances of the information being accurate are much better than information from an unauthorized biography.
  2. Using information from an authorized biography will give your story more credibility and receiving permission from the subject family will also lend credibility to the biography.

Filling in the Details

The details will make or break any biography, and the more details that are included the better the story will be. It will be the details that will define the subject person and draw insight from the life of that person.

When describing the events in the subject person’s life, the details will allow the reader to better understand the experiences, even if they have never had those same experiences.

The details should be fact based. It is libelous to make up information and will only serve as fuel for a lawsuit. The idea of a biography is to paint a picture with words to describe, highlight and educate readers about the subject person. It’s the details that give that person life.

Filed in: Writing Your Book

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