How to Write a Biography

How to Write a Biography to Share Someone's Life Story

What’s the Difference Between a Biography and an Autobiography?

A biography is a story of someone’s life, but it is written by another person. An autobiography is a story of a person’s life, written by that same person. An easy way to distinguish the two is the use of the first-person point of view. First-person is a key element of an autobiography. A biography uses third-person point of view.

Another way to distinguish the two is whether they are subjective or objective. An autobiography is subjective because it’s written from a personal perspective and is formed from a person’s own thoughts on events in their life. A biography is objective, or unbiased, because it is not based on someone’s personal viewpoints. A biography just deals with the facts, not feelings.

One of the biggest things to consider about how to write a biography is who you want to tell the story. Do you think you can write your own story, or would you rather have a family member, friend or professional take on the task for you?

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A Brief History of the Biography

If you look back in time, biographies focused on important historical figures and basically gave the facts of their lives and why they were important. It was more history writing than anything else. More distinct biographies did not appear until the 18th century.

The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell is considered to be the first modern biography. It was published in 1791 and covered the entire life of Samuel Johnson, who was a famous English writer. This biography was unique because Boswell used research, interviews, and eye-witness accounts to tell the story.

What is the Purpose of a Biography?

The major purpose of writing a biography is to share the life of another person with your audience. Most authors choose to write about a person who has interesting stories to tell. The stories could help inspire and encourage others by detailing how the subject overcame adversity. Authors also might choose to write a biography about someone who isn’t as well known to many people.

The Key Elements Included When Learning

How to Write a Biography

When you think about good biographies, they all have some key elements. If you’re thinking about how to write a biography, here are some things to consider.

  • The details of your subject’s birth and death
  • Where they are currently living, or where they grew up
  • Their educational background
  • Their professional background
  • Areas of expertise
  • Major achievements
  • Major challenges

You can use all of these elements when considering how to structure and write a biography. It’s not always in chronological order, but it can be. It’s up to you to figure out how to best tell their life story.

Tips on How to Write a Biography

A good biography should include more than just the facts. You really need to dive deep to find out all the interesting moments, achievements, and turning points that have shaped a person’s life. You want your biography to draw your reader in, keep them engaged, and give them a full picture of what your subject’s life was like.

Here are some steps to take to get started on writing a biography:

  • Get permission - Once you decide who to write about, try to get their permission to write about them. While it isn’t necessary, it can make it much easier to get in-depth details about the person and make your biography more complete and compelling.
  • Do your research - It’s important to gather all the facts you can. You want to tell a thorough story, and you can’t do that without a little research. Look for emails, interviews, memoirs, etc. about your subject. You can also look at their social media, website, and professional information. Maybe there were magazine articles, videos, or other publications your subject was featured in.
  • Interview others - Talk to anyone who might have relevant stories to share about your subject. It’s important to gather information from people close to them to offer another point of view.

  • Write your thesis - What is the main reason you are writing about this person? You need to tell your reader what the point of your biography is, right from the beginning.
  • Develop a timeline - Most biographies tell the story in chronological order. If you have everything in its place when you start to write, it can save you time instead of organizing it later.
  • Use flashbacks - A biography can be pretty cut and dry if you just stick to telling the story straight through. When you can, add in interesting facts from the past that might be relevant to who your subject is today.
  • Share your thoughts - If you chose to write a biography about someone, you believe they have a story worth telling. Don’t be afraid to include your opinions and feelings about important things your subject did. Your thoughts will help show your reader why your subject is significant.

Steps to Take When You’re Ready to Write a Biography

Now that you’ve gathered all of your information and done your research, it’s time to start writing. 

Follow these steps to write a good biography:

  • Outline it - Figure out how you want to organize how you tell the story. Decide it if you want to go with a chronological method, which tells the story as it happened throughout the person’s life. Or, you could choose to focus on specific time periods or themes during their life. The My LifeJars app can easily help you do this. The Memory Jars allow a person to document all the phases of their life, so you can pull the information from there when structuring how to tell their story.
  • Write a first draft - Don’t worry too much about errors at this point. Focus on telling the person’s life story in a compelling manner. You want to make sure you hook your reader.
  • Take a break, then proofread and fact check - Step away from the project for a few days. Then, come back to it and fix any typos. Plus, make sure it flows nicely and all your paragraphs are in the right places.
  • Ask someone else to read it - It’s always helpful to get another opinion on something you’re so close to. Ask a trusted friend or colleague to read your biography and offer suggestions.
  • Send a copy to your subject - It’s a good idea to make sure you have all your facts correct. If you can, ask your subject to review your biography about them. 

The Importance of Biographies

When you think about it, so much of what we know is learned by reading. Stories give us an opportunity to expand our knowledge and shape how we see the world. The same is true for biographies. If someone chooses to write a biography of someone, it gives us a more in-depth look at that person’s life and experiences.

Important things you can learn from reading biographies include:

  • Life lessons - It’s always easier to relate to someone, if you’ve gone through similar experiences. Your challenges might not be exactly the same, but you can use your own experiences to empathize with the subject of a biography. You can learn from that person and how they handled the challenges in their life.
  • How to overcome situations - Let’s say the subject of the biography you are reading has gone through numerous challenges, but always finds a way to end up on top. As you learn this person’s strategies, you can see the ways you can adapt if you’re ever faced with the same struggles.
  • Motivation - Depending on our own experiences, we all relate to things differently. Biographies include a number of defining moments throughout a person’s life. There will be certain events each of us identify with and use to motivate us in our own lives.

If you choose to have someone write your own life story, you know how important it is to preserve your legacy and create a permanent record future generations can read. You will want to make sure you store your biography in a place that’s easily accessible when you’re gone. 

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How Does My LifeJars Make Writing a Biography Easier?

My LifeJars has an easy to use template and prompts that creates an outline to write a person’s life story.

A family member or friend can write your life story for you, you can write it jointly, or do it by yourself very easily by setting sharing permissions in My LifeJars.

With My LifeJars, you can embellish a life story with images, voice recordings, and video snippets. You can even record yourself reading every memory so your story becomes an audio book, spoken in your voice.

Storing Your Important Documents in One Place

As much as we don’t like to think about dying, it’s important to make sure everything is in order for the family we leave behind. That’s where we step in to help. My LifeJars offers you a safe and secure online place to store everything your family needs when you’re no longer with them. It’s the safest place to keep a digital copy of your biography and autobiography, so your story is protected and accessible to your loved ones. 

Our app is the perfect place to organize and share all of your important documents, like your last will and testament, your advance care directive, your health care proxy, your enduring power of attorney, and your enduring guardian. We make it simple for you to give access to all the people who will need this information in the future.

What Are the Benefits of My LifeJars?

My LifeJars offers a basic account that is free forever and never expires, as long as you are active and assign a My LifeJars Guardian.

With this basic account store 24 memories, 24 things, 16 passwords upload file sizes up to 10MB and access 2GB of data storage. Create a life profile for yourself as well as for 4 other family members or friends and 4 legacies.

Only switch to a Gold paid account if you want to add unlimited memories, things & passwords, unlimited life profiles & legacies, upload file sizes up to 500MB including videos and store 200GB of data across all the profiles and legacies you create.

The My LifeJars app offers the following benefits:

  • Encrypted data - very advanced and multiple layered cryptographic protection.
  • Safety and security - access and review your information anywhere in the world with secure authentication.
  • No advertising - You will not be shown any ads from third party platforms while using the app.
  • Supports giving - My LifeJars donates 10% of annual subscriptions to our Partners, which you select to support.

Create Your Forever FREE My LifeJars Account Now. It’s easy to do, offers you peace of mind and control of WHO can access your memories, vital documents, important information and passwords - and WHEN they can access them, NOW or in the FUTURE.

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