Biography writing format has a lot in common with personal character reference writing. You’ll be creating a character analysis about your history and accomplishments.
You'll be writing a Bio in Third Person. This eliminates the unintentional boastfulness that can come from writing in First Person and having to use “I” again and again... and again.
The tips included here should help you focus on the information about a person you wish to have remembered.
When writing a biography, you will research to bring together certain aspects of the person about whom you write. Therefore, it is necessary that you have in mind the purpose of your writing.
Have in mind a focal point to build upon. Remember that you will also be doing character reference writing.
Know exactly what you wish to say or the points you wish to make known about the person. Writing a biography can be revealing.
~ Shorter biographies focus only on highlights of a person’s life, or even a single endeavor.
~ Long biographies tell the story of a person’s life, again focused on a certain slant about that person’s accomplishments.
~ Very long biographies, perhaps book length, can cover a person’s entire lifespan.
When you have a person in mind about whom to write, also have a solid biography writing format ready to guide you.
If you write about someone unknown, perhaps a figure from history, begin research to learn important facts to include. Make your list according to the biography writing format tips below.
In today’s world, some of the best research comes right off the Internet. However, be wary of the source of the information you draw from the Internet.
Use the same biography writing format when writing about someone you know or knew.
Research must also be done in this case as well, but you may find contacting friends and relatives, business acquaintances, and others to yield the information you need.
In considering a person’s life and how to document it, these are some questions you may contemplate:
~ What events in this person’s life, from child to adulthood, shaped him or her?
~ What hurdles did they overcome in order to accomplish what they did?
~ What did this person do that was the highlight of their life?
~ Did this person do anything that was special and affected many others?
~ How is this person known, locally, nationally, or internationally?
~ Write about examples from the person’s life that illustrates the qualities you choose to highlight.
~ Is the world, or simply the family and friends, better off for having known this person?
In using your biography writing format, and when finally beginning to write, you need not write everything in chronological order.
To start by saying John Doe was born on August 14, 1914 and died on August 14, 1964 may be attention-getting in that he was born and died on the same day years later, but it is BORING.
Instead, you may use 1-3 beginning paragraphs highlighting an event of great importance in this person’s life. Then you go back to the beginning and write in a certain order.
~ Write in Third Person, present tense.
~ If you write about a person you know, write it from YOUR POINT OF VIEW and learn how to avoid using the dreaded “I” too many times when expressing your opinions.
~ You may write about how that person’s life affected you. You may write about how you interacted with this person during the moments you include in the telling.
~ Omit any and all people who are not involved in the events you write about.
~ Include dialogue anywhere you can. It not only breaks up the many paragraphs of narration, it injects the flavor of the person in the history.
~ Do not make-up dialogue. Either the person said something or they didn’t. If you cannot remember it verbatim, say “He said something like…” And what you think he or she said needs to be as accurate as you can possibly make it.
~ Good biography writing format includes closure at the ending. Include another scene that highlights the person, maybe something they accomplished and how it affected others.
Finally, in publishing a biography you’ve written about someone else, understand that what you say and the impression your words make may be seen by the public for a good long time.
In order to assure that you have portrayed the person the way you intended, have it edited, then have several people read it.
Should you attempt writing a biography about yourself, perhaps for business purposes, and your intention is to promote yourself, a good place to start is by utilizing the best Biography writing format, no matter how little experience you may have.
When a literary agent wants to tell someone about you, hopefully a book acquisitions editor at a publishing house, they can read your Third Person accounting of yourself as if it were they talking about you.
If your Biography is written in First Person using the personal pronoun “I,” the person trying to tell someone about you must then convert each time you use “I” to “she,” to your name, before they can speak.
Some sample Biographies can be found among those who contributed articles for use in Volume II of Write it Right - Tips for Authors. These are varied but say exactly who that person is.
To my own Biography writing format, I’ve entwined industry standard requirements. They mesh seamlessly.
To get you started in writing a biography for yourself, my history (you know your own) and several biographies in different lengths, with instructions, can be found here: