Step 3: Write Your Own Biography Previous Next

Are you up for some fun, fact-finding detective work? We hope so! Before you jump into writing a biographical sketch, you need to do some sniffing around — just like a detective — to get all the facts.

Remember the Frederick Douglass sketch we shared with you earlier? Well, to write that story, we first had to do some research. Once we had a list of facts about our subject, the famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass, we picked the most interesting ones around which to build our biographical sketch.

Let's get started!
Now it's your turn to do some fact-finding research. Just follow these three steps.

1. Pick a Subject
Choose someone you really want to write about. Check out Brainstorming tips for more hints on how to choose a subject.

2. Ask Questions
Brainstorm a list of questions about this person. Here are a few samples to help get you started:

  • Where was this person born? In what year?
  • Where did this person grow up?
  • What does/did this person do for a living?
  • Why is this person famous? What did/does this person do to become famous?
  • How has this person made an impact on others' lives?

Depending on the subject of your sketch, your questions may vary. Think about what you really want to know about the person. As you research, use the Research Notebook to record your questions, answers, and the sources you used, such as newspapers, books, and Web sites, in which you found answers.

3. Find Answers
Use a variety of sources to find answers to your questions. You may use the Internet, books, an encyclopedia, newspaper and magazine articles, interviews, documentaries, or other sources.

Now that you've have a list of facts, you are ready to write your biographical sketch. A biographical sketch is a way to tell about a person's life by focusing on one incident that defines who she or he is.

Review your research notes and choose one interesting fact or story you discovered about your subject. Research that fact or story further, using sources suggested in the Brainstorming tips. Then, write that story as a way to introduce your audience to your subject's life. Even though you are focusing on one aspect or event in the subject's life, try to include basic facts such as when she or he was born, where she or he is from, etc.

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