We get lots of requests to write articles on the site as well as requests for writing tips from would-be writers and students. So over the next few days we’ll be sharing two articles on history writing. First up, it’s how to write a biographical essay… As surprising as may be, many people, especially students, struggle with writing a biographical essay. This guide shares insights on how to write a great biographical essay.

 Writing in History...  Man Writing a Letter  by Gabriel Metsu, 1660s.

Writing in History... Man Writing a Letter by Gabriel Metsu, 1660s.

Biographical Essay Writing Masterclass: Make Sure Your Narrative is Top Class

Biography is like History – a chronological list of events (but in somebody’s life). With there being 4 essential types of essays (persuasive, descriptive, expository and narrative), students often find writing narratives the most difficult. And since a biographical essay is often narrative writing in nature, we’d like to share best practices that show you how to write a great essay or ace an assignment fast. Indeed, if you’re a student taking History classes, you’ll find these tips most useful.

 

Groundwork goes first

Writing a biography essay is a wonderful opportunity to delve into someone’s life. A renowned actor, politician, writer, inventor, sports star – depending on the topic, you can pick one of a great many figures, with a peculiar, captivating life history and career achievements. 

Your key goal is to trace the roots of who a person was, how they became the person we know them to be, what challenges they had to go through, and what their contributions were to the world. Taken together, thinking about these questions will allow you to pick your subject.

Decided who you’ll write an essay about? Great, time to do your research. As a rule, prominent figures already have tomes of biographies written about them, so your goal may be to fit lots of available information into the framework of a 2000-word essay. In addition, reading interviews and including interesting extracts from them will serve you well.

Just as you finish gathering background data and peculiar pieces of information, don’t rush ahead writing your introduction yet. One of the essentials of delivering a quality essay is drawing up an outline. Think though the structure of your paper and outline the sections and subsections, possibly down to each 150-200 words. Make sure you have a good writing plan at hand to keep all the ideas and draft components in check.  

 

Introduction, main body, conclusion

In terms of overall structure, a biographical essay is no different to any other type of essay. A standard 7-to-10-paragraph essay with an introduction, main body and conclusion is what we’re looking for.

Introduction: The main goal of the introduction is to grab the reader’s attention and give a smooth transition to the main body of your text. Here are 3 effective methods to “hook” a reader right from the start:

·       Cite a captivating quote or saying by the figure you’re writing about to show how outstanding and notable the persona is/was

·       Offer a short, preferably comic or entertaining short story about the person to set the right mood for the essay to develop further

·       Give an example of an iconic achievement the person attained to firmly grab the reader’s attention

 

Main body: You have 5-to-8 paragraphs to highlight the milestones in a person’s life and present your essay in an interesting way. For example, if you’re discussing a writer, you might choose to describe one of their most prominent books of the author as well as time periods that preceded and followed the publishing.

If you are writing about a sports star, you might want to select three of the person’s most famous games and some interesting events that took place behind the scenes as you tell their story. Or, if it’s an actor, you can discuss the history of how the person harnessed their talent and became somebody through key events in their life.

Conclusion: It is normally a good idea to discuss the contribution the protagonist of your essay made in their field of expertise, modern culture, history, etc. Has a person left any legacy? Are there any biographical blind spots that require more detailed studying? What were they most remembered for when they died or what are they most well known for today?

 

Finally… 5 tips for writing a biography essay which always pay off

·       Deliver a consistent story – Narrative essay writing is all about making your story both informative and entertaining. Include proven facts, people, places and events that are relevant to the biography of the person you’re writing about

·       Know your purpose – There will be a reason why you’ve chosen this particular figure. Why are you, for example, writing an essay about a 1950s film star and why should the reader be interested? These questions must be obvious from the essay

·       You need a great introduction – Write a clear and interesting introduction and support it with facts, original sources, and quotes throughout the essay

·       Stick to the chronological order – History is usually a set of events depicted in a chronological order. While it is possible to jump back and forth with your essay, for most people, especially students, writing in a chronological order usually works best

·       Check your background data – Make sure all the dates, names, places, events and figures are correct, and keep Wikipedia information/references to a minimum, as such references can sometimes be less than accurate. All told, rely on proven data and checked facts, supplemented by an interesting writing style

 

This article was produced in conjunction with UK Essay Now. If you’re looking for more advanced tips on how to write a biographical essay, visit professional academia resources and expert writing-focused blogs, which share in-depth writing tips suitable for students who’d like to improve their History and biographical writing still further.

 

Now, let us know your writing experiences below!

Posted
AuthorGeorge Levrier-Jones
CategoriesBlog Post