Biographies and Autobiographies

Biographies are books or stories written about just one thing: someone’s life.  If you write an autobiography, you we specifically writing about about your life.

Biographies

This genre can be interesting to read if the author digs up juicy facts about the person they are writing about.  A juicy fact could be how Mark Twain was born and died on the night Halley’s Comet was visible on earth or the strange etiquette Marie Antoinette had to get used to when she moved to France from Austria.  But in order for these facts to interest the reader and make them want to read more, you need to explain and elaborate.  You could talk about how rare it was for Halley’s Comet to be streaking across the sky.  You could explain what the weird parts of etiquette were and say that one of the many rules was that of you wanted to talk to the king, you had to scratch on the door with the fingernail of you left pinkie until the door was opened.  Then the reader would get surprised or even amazed, making them pay more attention.

On the other hand, sometimes finding juicy facts can be really hard.  In this case, you could try to present the facts in a more original way.  You could do this by including rhymes and other strategies to remember the fact.  For example, in math, for order of operations, the order is PEMDAS: parenthesis, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and then subtraction.  If you were writing about this, you could suggest remembering the order with phrases like, “Please End My Day At School,” or, “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.”  You could also include puns or jokes.  If you are talking about chemistry, you could do what the YouTube channel Crash  Course: Chemistry does and calls each fun fact, which in their case is just a pun, “Mol-E-Cool.”  For example when they are talking about a scientist who is famous for a imaginary situation that had to do with a cat, the joke is, “How many lives does a theoretical cat have?”  (This is because of the myth that cats have nine lives.)

What you also want to make sure you do while writing a biography, is getting the correct information. Sometimes, this can mean deep research about the person you are writing about. You want to make sure that you are getting accurate facts about the person’s life. While you do this, though, you don’t want to bore the reader by repeating fact after fact. You want it to flow smoothly, like a story.

Autobiographies

Autobiography – Auto meaning self, and biography meaning story of. Therefore, autobiography means the story of yourself… (written by you of course)

Autobiographies can be hard to write, especially if you are the type of person that doesn’t know where to start

1. First, create a timeline of your life.

Make sure that you zoom in on the important parts of your life, the ones that really matter, and which events relate to the purpose of your autobiography. For example, you might not want to talk about how you went to school every day, but perhaps this one year in school that you found important and meaningful.

Then again, it could be that you want to write about your own life… Do the same thing: Create a timeline and try to pick out important parts to string together into your autobiography.

2. Use themes to ‘up’ your story.

Including a theme in your story is very useful, because it gives you a purpose for writing and it gives the reader a purpose for reading. This benefits the reader, and that is great because people read to (and thought they might not know it) learn something.

Many people say that they want to write about their life, but unfortunately, their life has no meaning. This is wrong, because there is not meaning to life unless you give it a meaning, and as a writer, giving something meaning is the best way that you can be a writer. It is the definition of the writer: giving words a meaning. What you can do if you have a great story, but cannot figure out the theme, is pluck out important quotes, actions, or true meaning. Try to find the connecting between them, and eventually, you will find your theme. Another way to find a theme is to find the turning point of your life and figure out what turned your life around and then make it relatable to the audience.

3. Start drafting

The first draft is (you guessed it!) the first step to writing. It doesn’t matter if there are silly grammar mistakes or anything else of that sort. The main thing is to get the bones of the story down first. You can add in your flesh later when you….

4. Edit!

Now it the point where you can go through your story and revise. Things to ask yourself when editing an autobiography:

  • Are all of the facts correct?
  • Have I really picked out the best events from my life?
  • Can I add anything more to make the reader enjoy it?
  • Where can I add more to the theme?
  • Is all of my spelling correct?
  • Have I added in correct punctuation?

Can you think of any more questions to make this better?

If you have all of there questions as a YES! then you can move on. If not, go back and start revising. If you are unsure about a question, you can peer edit. This is when you hand your story over to a trustworthy friend and ask them to edit it. *Make sure you have two copies of the story in case your trustworthy friend deletes something from your story in hopes of making it better!* This is very useful because the friend doesn’t know the story. He/she will find what parts are confusing and other mistakes and tell them to you. Then just edit those mistakes

5. Redraft & Re-edit

If you would like to redraft your story, that is OK. It is a good choice if you are writing a novel, but if it is a short story (like 1-2 pages) it is not completely necessary to redraft. Same goes for editing.

6. Think of a Title

This, you might think, should go at the very top of the steps list, but really, it should go closer to the end.  It is most useful when you are finished with the story to actually add the title. This is because it is easier to think of a title when the story is all done.

Your done!