November 29, 2023
Biography writing is a distinct skill. A good biographer can explain why a person’s life mattered and how their work contributed to world history. A biography can shed light on a particular historical era or developments in art and literature.
The first step in biography writing is to determine your purpose. A biography shares the life of another person with the reader. Consider why you think the person you’ve chosen would be interesting to read about.
For examples of outstanding biography writing, you can turn to these bestselling and award-winning books. These writers brought their subjects to life through their vivid imagery, attention to detail, and carefully crafted dialogues.
If someone is important enough to write biography about, they probably lived an interesting, eventful life. In good biography writing, you bring those stories to life. Biography writing is all about making history come alive through the eyes of one person. That person can be very well-known, but it may also be someone who’s been overlooked in history books.
Most biographers write about people who have inspired them. They may also write about those who fascinate them because of the good—or the evil—they committed during their life.
Some people are so famous that they’ve been the subjects of several biographies. Their popularity shouldn’t stop you, however, especially if you have a fresh take or newly published sources on the subject. People who enjoy biographies often enjoy reading different version of their favorite subject’s life.
To write biography, you will need to spend some serious time on research. Research is essential to writing biography because you never want to write something in your book that isn’t backed up by research findings.
Here’s a summary of sources you can use to find out more about your subject and the time he or she lived in.
Once you have completed your research, you must organize all the information you’ve uncovered. Start by outlining the basic structure of your biography. A simple format for biography writing is to follow this format.
A foreword should come first in a biography. It’s especially important to have one if you are a first-time writer. A foreword is an introduction to the book written by someone who the reader will recognize as an authority. It might be an expert in the subject of your biography or someone who is very familiar with the historical era you’re writing about. If you’re writing about someone who achieved fame in a particular field, the foreword could be written by another leader in the same field.
A foreword works like a recommendation from someone the reader respects. It can convince a reader to give your book a fair chance. The foreword is typically short. Shoot for a word count of about 200 to 300.
Most biographies need prefaces. It’s where you briefly explain your research methods and your approach to the biography. A preface should be short. Save the “meat” of your thesis for the introduction and the rest of the book.
Every nonfiction book needs an introduction. An introduction can be a few paragraphs long, or it can cover several pages. Use the length you need to write a powerful introduction. Every nonfiction book should have an introduction written by the author.
Explain what the reader can expect from reading it. For a nonfiction work like a biography, it’s appropriate to include an introduction that lays out your thesis or theme. What is your takeaway on this person? How do you see them and their place in history? Make sure your introduction explains this clearly, and invite the reader to follow along as you make your case.
The order of this front matter should be:
Bring your subject and their family, historical period, and settings to vivid life with photos, illustrations, and artwork. Make sure you clear any copyright issues related to publishing artwork or photos.
Now that you’ve done the research, developed a thesis, and chosen your pictures, it’s time to start your biography writing. Set a schedule based on hours worked or words produced and get to work. Writing a biography is a major undertaking, and it’s important to be patient with yourself while you’re getting through it. Organizing your materials and setting a daily schedule are key to getting it done.
Your biography must end with a reference section stating what you used to research your book. Give credit to all the sources you used during your research.
At Publishing Xpress, we specialize in working with first-time biographers and other writers who are new to publishing. If you want personalized attention from professional printer that delivers on time every time, contact us today.
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