Most students of literature seem to have an interest in writing creatively, while some write verses, others write stories, informative articles, novels, short stories. While they take forward this interest of theirs, they slowly develop a flair for writing and start penning down more difficult forms of writing such as biography. Andrew Curran Wesleyan, Dean of Arts and Humanities at the Wesleyan University has capably composed the biography of French philosopher Denis Diderot.
Biographies have gained impetus in recent times, perhaps because the lives of famous people are out in the open owing to the internet and social media. Stories of people evolving out of hardships and becoming celebrities, like a phoenix rises out of its ashes, the life stories of sports personalities, and political personalities, instigate curiosity in the masses. The authors are taking this to their advantage and writing the biographies that sell like hot cakes. However, not all of them are able to engage the readers too well, because after all, there are a set of stock principles which when followed obediently, make a biography successful.
The first point of consideration for an author is the length of the biography. The shorter biographies mostly appear in referral publications or as a short write up for the media. The longer ones on the other hand are published as books and make their way to the book stores. While the information for the former one are easily available through the internet, the latter one needs in depth research and interviews, so that it is replete with details – things that is unknown to the common people.
Even before you put the first word down on paper, it is important that you know your subject well and understand their life well. Maintenance of authenticity is a key element of a biography; hence, it is the responsibility of the author to present the subject of the biography correctly. Also when required the author needs to exercise his discretion to eliminate the boring things as also the negative things that will not appeal to the readers.
Any good author like Andrew Curran Wesleyan will make sure to include the basic elements of a biography, which are: date of birth, place of birth, family details, hobbies, interests, obstacles overcome, challenges, successes, special events that occurred in the lifetime of the subject, etc. The beginning should always be very engaging and a thought provoking one, it ought to be instilling in the reader a sense of curiosity to find out what happened next. In this regard then there has to be a bit of dramatization added to the real story. It does not necessarily have to be about the subject, it could be anything, even a political event that has an implication on the life of the subject.
As the book works further, the author will need to create scenes that engage the reader, and make him/her feel a part of the narrative. The success of any biography comes when the reader is able to empathize with the central character.