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How to Write a Biography

Biographies are delightful fun essays that most students enjoy writing. According to Webster's Dictionary, a biography is—1: a written history of a person's life; 2: biographical writings as a whole; 3: an account of the life of something (as an animal, a coin, or a building).

In your class work, Biographies will be simple (and usually quite short) essays about someone else's life. An autobiography on the other hand, is a story (or essay) about your own personal life. As this section is about Biographies, you must keep yourself out of the essay altogether.

In order to write a Biography, follow the following simple steps:

  1. Research the person
    • Read books
    • Read magazines
    • Internet research
    • Interviews (if possible)
    • Exploration of that person's inner world (cafes, homes, favorite things)
  2. Select an angle
    • Learn all about a person's life (personal, professional, private)
    • Select one aspect of that person's life (or one time period)
    • Focus all your research on that component
    • Try to select an aspect of that person's life that has not yet been told
  3. Write an outline
    • Organizing your thoughts it vital in writing a biography
    • Select the main events in the person's life on which to focus
    • Write them in a certain order (chronological, professional development, etc.)
    • Even though this is a Biography, you will still need a thesis statement. The thesis will essentially tell the reader what you are trying to express about your subject in one sentence. The person's tagline or motto, if you will.
  4. Write the paper
    • Simple, pick up your pen (or turn on your computer) and write away
    • Write more than less. In Biographies, there is always more to cover than is necessary. It is much easier to cut out than try to add in later on.
  5. Edit the paper
    • As mentioned before, every writer needs an editor.
    • Edit purely for grammar, punctuation
    • Edit purely for content (logical flow)
    • Give the paper to someone else to read