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Here are a few general ideas: As I mentioned earlier, the point of a biographical essay is not to simply write everything you can about your subject. You might choose to focus on her childhood role of Hannah Montana or her current musical career.You need to make some type of argument about the person you’re writing about. You might even look at her family background to examine her interest in fame and how she was able to break into the television and music scene. Let’s say you want to argue that he has anger management issues.Shape your story to help readers learn about your subject’s personality, about his or her character, and about the key focus of your paper. You might even end your paper with the pinnacle of your subject’s career.
But in order to write a lively biographical essay, you can’t simply tell every detail of a person’s life since birth. Plus, the biography would include a lot of details that are mundane. Writing a biographical essay is like writing any research paper.
Those details don’t make for interesting information to include in your paper. You need to locate credible sources and learn more about your subject before you can start writing.
You might not find any current news articles about your subject, either (unless, of course, you’re writing about Lindsay Lohan, who seems to be in the news almost daily).
Where do you find sources to help write a lively biographical essay?
Well, you’ll need to do a lot of reading, a fair amount of condensing information, and a bit of planning in order to write a lively biographical essay.
A biography is essentially the story of a person’s life.After you’ve completed your research, look for patterns in the person’s life, analyze the person’s actions, examine the events of his or her life, and make connections. Did you realize her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, was a one-hit-wonder in the 1980s? In this case, you can point to angry voicemails, an assault of a photographer, run-ins with paparazzi, and the infamous airline Words with Friends incident.You can use these examples (and other biographical information) to write Baldwin’s biography and focus on your claim that he has anger-management problems.This not only makes for boring reading, but it’s also an impossible task. You can’t write everything about a person’s life in just a few pages. I’m sure you’ll start with something about when and where the person was born.Besides, you’re not trying to inform your readers of every single thing that ever happened to that person. From there, though, you’ll need to make some decisions.Your goal is to condense a person’s life story into a meaningful commentary. For example, let’s say you decided to write about Miley Cyrus.You’re focusing on her family background and how or why she might have been influenced to enter the world of entertainment.Students tend to skip the latter unless specifically warned not to, but we need to see beyond the Muhammeds and Napoleons in order to appreciate what was involved in individual decision making in the past. Since our course is interdisciplinary and interdepartmental, taught by political scientists, sociologists, and anthropologists, as well as by historians, we used these texts because we wanted to introduce students to some of the insights of the social sciences by paying particular attention to environmental forces, political structures and traditions, and social and economic developments in the human story.Ten years ago, after Murray State University introduced a required world civilizations course for first-year students, a number of us in the history department began to explore ways to enliven and humanize the course. To keep individuals from getting lost in a panorama of social forces, however, I wrote a series of short, comparative biographical essays to use in teaching the course.Our texts, even the better second-generation ones now available for world history courses, tend to bury individuals in social and political narratives or in a network of events and dates that students are asked to organize and memorize.Brief biographies of important figures, such as Muhammed or Napoleon, usually are presented, and there is often interesting "boxed" material about colorful individuals. Both texts emphasized broad themes at the expense of individuals.