Biography increasingly ranks high among intelligent readers as a favourite genre. A great biography can show a new dimension of its subject or illuminate someone’s life for the public eye. You should choose someone that you find fascinating, as for the next few months, or even years, that person will be a daily part of your life. iUniverse always loves a good biography, and wants to offer some guidance on how to help you craft your addition to the biographical canon.
Don’t worry if someone has already written a biography of your subject. Few biographies are the be-all and end-all of a person’s story. Just look at the number of books that have been written about Winston Churchill or George Washington, for example. There is almost always an opportunity to provide new information and a fresh perspective. Biographers of the 21st century also have access to more documents and can acquire them with greater efficiency.
Get organized. Biographers’ research will be in a variety of forms – notes, interviews, letters, etc. The old-fashioned way was to have paper folders for each, whereas now computers make this very easy – and paperless. Scan what you can. As for filing systems, you may want to file your subject’s information chronologically or with regard to location or special periods of his or her life.
One footnote to the above: never wait too long to conduct an interview, as most eyewitnesses and friends of your subject are probably old!
Eventually, enough research is enough! Your goal as a biographer is to write, not to research. As tempting as it can be to continue gathering facts and interviews, eventually you have to start writing.
Biographies have been written since Plutarch’s time and continue to be a very popular writing form. iUniverse looks forward to seeing more biographies, and hopes the above advice has helped you on your way. Make sure to check out our installment on Autobiographies as well.