If you were to write a biography of an individual, where would you start? How would you proceed?
Assuming, of course, that there aren't already library shelves buckling under the weight of all the previous biographies of this person... although the question would also be applicable for anyone wishing to do a revisionist biography. I am interested in hearing people's approaches to the research and organization of such a work.
Start with the facts, the simple facts.
Then research more generally the period, the places, clothing, society of the time, seeking to put the person in context.
Then look for what contemporary people wrote about the person and check the press.
Now look back to the chronology of events and look for patterns in the subject's development: why did they become the person they were? what inner struggles did they experience? what epiphanies did they reach? how did they conquer the obstacles in their path? how did they suffer?
Try and get 'under the skin' of the subject and understand her/his life from the inside out.
Now brainstorm and draw up a 'mind map' of all your ideas.
Now pick out the most interesting lines and patterns and threads and begin to weave them together as a narrative.
Consider your style and make it appropraite to your subject and your intended readership.
Write your first draft.
Get it critiqued.
Starting with facts about someone's life, as a fellow hubber mentioned is a good start, but then I would start to look at the individual choices this particular person has made and how it influnced his/her future life. When I read the good biography I want to know what made this special person to who she/he becomes.
Many of the great people never seem to change at all, if the majority of people is born to hurtle around in many directions, they always always know the road they are on and will end up somewhere near where they have started....after achieving what they plan to achieve:)
I would like to read how they, rather than simply protecting the battlements of the status quo, embraced change, accepted change, dealt with change and harnessed its power to their advantage...
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