Whether you’re a blogger who wants to tell people the life story of one of their biggest inspirations or you’re an independent author looking to make a little money by writing biographies about the rich and famous, this is a writing form that takes some finesse. You’re writing about someone else’s life, and what you say could get you in trouble.
What Is a Biography?
In its simplest terms, a biography is a story of someone’s life (or at least a portion of their life) written by someone other than that person. If you’re writing about yourself, it’s an autobiography. A biography doesn’t have to be a complete book; it could be an article or a blog.
How to Write a Biography?
No matter the length or reason you want to write a biography, there are some things you’ll need to do to be successful at it. Here are the basics on how to write a biography.
1. Choosing Your Subject
Who do you want to write about? You can’t write a biography without a subject. Before you pick a subject, you need to think about who you’re writing about and their life. You want someone that has lead an interesting life so that people will be interested in reading what you write. You could write short blog-sized biographies of people that are interesting but don’t have a long history, but there wouldn’t be enough info to create an engaging full-length book.
Famous people are always good choices when it comes to biography subjects. It doesn’t matter what they’re famous for. From politicians to musicians, pick someone who doesn’t already have a bunch of biographies and is someone people love and will want to read about.
2. Get Permission to Write About Them
While you can write about a celebrity without their permission, they have the right to sue you if they don’t like something you’ve written about them. That means you need to be very careful about what you say in a biography. You could always get permission and save yourself the trouble.
If you decide to write about a celebrity without their go-ahead, make sure you are honest and transparent when it comes to what you’ve done. One way to do this is to include the word “unauthorized” with the biography part.
3. Write an Outline
All writers, whether you write articles or books, should start with an outline. This step helps you decide what’s going into your story, it ensures that you follow some form of a timeline that makes sense for biographies, and it makes the entire writing process flow smoothly.
Starting with the creation of an outline will allow you to organize the information you’ve collected on your celebrity. You might want to start with who they are now and go back as the book goes own, or vice versa. Or, maybe you have a certain way you want to jump from earlier points in their life to more current ones, and then back again, tied in with certain subjects.
4. Do Your Research
Once you’ve determined who you’re writing about and what part of their life you want to cover in your biography, it’s now time to start doing the research. Don’t just look online for stuff. Do everything you can to ensure the information you share is factual, even if you’re writing an unauthorized biography.
Look into public records, interview family members and friends of your subject, talk to the schools they went to, and talk to them too if you can.
5. Get Writing
This biography isn’t going to come together overnight. You already did all the prewriting (your research and the outline), so now it’s time for a rough draft. And you may have a few more drafts before you get to the final draft.
You want to be factual and detailed. You also want to put enough creativity into the story so that it will stay interesting. Focus on your thesis. You want to stay on point so that you put out a biography that teaches people about the celebrity you chose to write about.
6. Edit Your Work
Editing is one of the most important steps of creating a well-written biography. Read through what you’ve written, read it out loud, and line edit too to make sure you don’t miss any grammatical mistakes. It’s also smart to hire a professional editor that will ensure your work looks great, from grammar to syntax.
Are You Ready to Write a Biography?
With this information on how to write a biography, it’s now time to start working on one. Not sure you have what it takes? Take some writing lessons or spend some time reading other biographies. Good writers read the genre(s) they write about.