Step 2: Brainstorming Previous Next

Here are some tips for you to follow that have always helped us with our research and writing. Try them out!

  1. Select a person you care about. You may either like or dislike your subject, but it is important that you "feel" strongly one way or the other. If you're not interested in the person, you won't enjoy the process of researching and writing about her/him.

  2. Read an article about your subject (if available). This will give you the sequence of the person's life. From this information, construct a working outline.

  3. Research your subject thoroughly. Check the bibliographies of the most recently published books about your subject. Read newspaper, magazine, and Internet articles, or an autobiography; listen to tapes and videos. Set up interviews and write letters to museums, historical societies, colleges and universities. Keep all the notes you take.

  4. Research the historical time period in which your subject lived and did her/his work.

  5. Cross-reference materials. Find a fact in three different sources (if possible) to make sure it is accurate. When there is a disagreement between sources, state that there is a conflict and give sources.

  6. Keep general reference books available — an atlas, dictionary, almanac, historical time line, and others. Use these to add colorful details to the individual's story.

  7. Be objective about your subject. Tell the truth based on your findings. Don't bury the person's failures because you like her/him, and don't put a negative slant on a fact because you don't like the person. Good biographies are well-balanced, objective representations of a person's life and work. Be honest.

  8. Be as accurate as possible. After writing the first draft, fact-check all the data again. Then check it one more time.

  9. Write in a clear and convincing way. If you don't believe what you're writing, neither will your reader.

  10. Tell a good story. Keep your readers interested.

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