A biography is basically a memoir or a story of someone’s life. It is meant to provide insights, lessons and an acknowledgment of someone’ general experience in life. However, writing it might not be as simple as simple as its definition. There are some guidelines that need to be adhered to before diving into such a project. Here are the crucial steps that you need to keep in mind once you have identified your subject.
Well, the first step is obviously carrying out intensive research about the person whom you are writing about, or rather subject. A biography is only useful if it is genuine and accurate. The research may involve looking for primary sources which may include books, magazines, videos, internet articles, interviews, letters as well as existing autobiographies.
To make the whole process easier, it is advisable to have your own set of research questions. These questions act as a guide in finding what you are looking for. For instance, you may ask yourself what you find interesting about the subject and why he/she is important to your readers.
By having such questions in your mind, it then becomes easy to conduct interviews with the people close to the subjects. Such people generally include relatives, friends, co-workers, spouses, and peers. It is from such people that your research may have a breath of life. They may tell you things that you will never find in books or the internet!
Before finally drafting your research, it is vital that you can be able to contextualize the person’s life. That is, consider the period during he/she grew up, the history of the places they lived as well as the economies and political climate at that time. You can through the events and news that have been taking place in that particular region. Ideally, you can as well visit the places and get a feel of the subject’s past and story.
When you now begin to write, go for a chronological structure. This entails starting from the subject’s birth orderly until his/her death or later life. The timeline needs to be accurate and accountable. But then again, you may use flashbacks to make the story captivating and detailed. For example, when writing about a person’s death in the present, you may jump through a flashback to highlight their cherished memories of their childhood.
Focus on subject’s milestones and major events. It is such accomplishments that ultimately shaped his/her life. This also gives a good sense to your audience in knowing what mattered the most to that person and how it impacted their surroundings.
On the same note, identify a theme or rather a pattern in the lifetime by searching for recurring phrases and situations. For example, if the subject was constantly in the midst of civil rights protests and spearheading peaceful demonstrations, then we have a theme of leadership and adversity.
All in all, as a writer it is also advisable to have your own opinion in the biography. Use the milestones and pattern to comment on your perception about the person. Once you are done, do not forget to proofread, cite all sources and also show your close associates for their feedback. Accept the comments positively and edit where necessary for the sake of all your other readers.