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How to Write a Biography
Last Updated: May 14, 2023 References Approved
This article was co-authored by Stephanie Wong Ken, MFA . Stephanie Wong Ken is a writer based in Canada. Stephanie's writing has appeared in Joyland, Catapult, Pithead Chapel, Cosmonaut's Avenue, and other publications. She holds an MFA in Fiction and Creative Writing from Portland State University. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 12 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 1,801,566 times.
Writing a biography can be a fun challenge, where you are sharing the story of someone’s life with readers. You may need to write a biography for a class or decide to write one as a personal project. Once you have identified the subject of the biography, do your research so you know as much about them as possible. Then, dive into the writing of the biography and revising it until it is at its finest.
Researching Your Subject
- If the subject does not give you permission to write the biography, you may want to choose a different subject. If you decide to publish the biography without the subject’s permission, you may be susceptible to legal action by the subject.
- If the subject is no longer alive, you obviously do not need to ask permission to write about them.
- You may create research questions to help focus your research of the subject, such as, What do I find interesting about the subject? Why is this subject important to readers? What can I say that is new about the subject? What would I like to learn more about?
- For in person interviews, record them with a tape recorder or a voice recorder on your computer or phone.
- You may need to interview the subject and others several times to get the material you need.
- You may also want to visit areas where the subject made a major decision or breakthrough in their life. Being physically in the area can give you a sense of how the subject might have felt and help you write their experiences more effectively.
- When researching the time period ask yourself: What were the social norms of that time? What was going on economically and politically? How did the social and political climate affect the subject?
- You may also include historical events or moments that affected the subject on the timeline. For example, maybe there was a conflict or civil war that happened during the person’s life that affected their life.
Writing the Biography
- You may end up focusing on particular areas of the person’s life. If you do this, work through a particular period in the person’s life chronologically.
- For example, you may have a thesis statement about focusing on how the person impacted the civil rights movement in America in the 1970s. You can then make sure all your content relates back to this thesis.
- Flashbacks should feel as detailed and real as present day scenes. Use your research notes and interviews with the subject to get a good sense of their past for the flashbacks.
- For example, you may jump from the person’s death in the present to a flashback to their favorite childhood memory.
- For example, you may focus on the person’s accomplishments in the civil rights movement. You may write a whole section about their contributions and participation in major civil rights marches in their hometown.
- For example, you may notice that the person’s life is patterned with moments of adversity, where the person worked hard and fought against larger forces. You can then use the theme of overcoming adversity in the biography.
- For example, you may note how you see parallels in the person’s life during the civil rights movement with your own interests in social justice. You may also commend the person for their hard work and positive impact on society.
Polishing the Biography
- Revise the biography based on feedback from others. Do not be afraid to cut or edit down the biography to suit the needs of your readers.
- Having a biography riddled with spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors can turn off your readers and result in a poor grade if you are handing in the text for a class.
- If the biography is for a class, use MLA, APA, or Chicago Style citations based on the preferences of your instructor.
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- Be careful when publishing private or embarrassing information, especially if the person is not a celebrity. You may violate their "Right of Privacy" or equivalent. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 30 Not Helpful 5
- Have the sources to back up your statements about the subject's life. Untruthful written statements can lead to litigation. If it is your opinion, be clear that it is such and not fact (although you can support your opinion with facts). ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 15 Not Helpful 15
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- ↑ http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/writing/how-to-write-a-biography.html
- ↑ https://au.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-write-a-bio
- ↑ https://grammar.yourdictionary.com/writing/how-to-write-a-biography.html
- ↑ https://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/3-tips-for-writing-successful-flashbacks
- ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/how-to-write-bio/
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/editing-and-proofreading/
- ↑ https://www.plagiarism.org/article/how-do-i-cite-sources
About This Article
Before you write a biography, gather as much information about the subject that you can from sources like newspaper articles, interviews, photos, existing biographies, and anything else you can find. Write the story of that person’s life, including as much supporting detail as you can, including information about the place and time where the person lived. Focus on major events and milestones in their life, including historical events, marriage, children, and events which would shape their path later in life. For tips from our reviewer on proofreading the biography and citing your sources, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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An authorized biography is written with the permission, cooperation, and at times, participation of a subject or a subject's heirs. An autobiography is written by the person themselves
When your article gets accepted for a journal or when you need to make a public presentation, the chances are that you will have to prepare an academic biography. Many people have problems writing an academic
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Article Writing & Research Writing Projects for $10 - $30. If this work suits You, please, send me at least one performed biography for Wikipedia and contact me asap
When writing a biography use the following checklist to make sure that you have all the facts: Name, Date and Place of Birth Date and Place of Death Physical Description Character / Personality