I haven't written a biography as yet, but I have read a great number of my family's biographies. Believe me - they could have used Bridget's touch! When it comes time to put my genealogy research into biographical format, I will definitely apply Bridget's suggestions. Here are a few of Bridget's tips:
- Remember - not everything important to you is important to others.
- If you had a hard life, no one wants to read just the negative. Write how you triumphed over your hard life and how you are a thriving survivor.
- Who is your audience? Write with that in mind.
- Remember that every hero has a flaw, and every villain has some redeeming qualities. Include the struggles and heartaches as well as the good.
- Keep the length readable. If your biography is too long, don't discard it! Make a shortened version that grandchildren will read, and hopefully you will leave them wanting more and they will seek out your more lengthier version.
- Start with a hook to draw people in. In fact, try to have a hook in every chapter.
- Write a "show me" story instead of a "tell me" story. Show them what happened; add color, humor and phrases from their day.
- Get juicy in the details, but be careful to avoid libel and slander. And, don't label people.
- Every person is unique. Find those qualities and expand upon them. Include strengths and weaknesses.
- Record spiritual events and beliefs that shaped the life of whom you are writing, but in such a way your audience won't feel you are being judgmental. Write how these events shaped their life.
- Don't forget to write about the people in their life who affected them. Start with making a list of everyone in their life.
- Write about career and work history, but write about the career journey, duties, talents, strengths, joys, heartaches, accolades, etc.; how it shaped their life.
- Make sure dates, settings, etc. are accurate.
- Write and write and write when you are on a roll. Don't let the left brain stop you to look up dates (and distract you); you can always fill in the blanks later.
Or, better yet, get an Olympus digital recorder and use Dragon Naturally Speaking* (by Nuance) to transcribe your recordings. I researched Dragon Naturally Speaking and decided that the Premium version would be better for me (see image at left), because I want to have it also transcribe audio recordings I have converted to digital format. (I don't believe the Standard edition of this software does that. If anyone finds otherwise, please let me know!)
There is also a free app called Dragon Naturally Speaking on ITunes, and it works well on my iPhone. Just remember that this free app does not save the data; you must email or text it to yourself in order to preserve it.
Hope you find these tips helpful. I would also suggest attending a Family History Expo in your area - I learn so much every time I attend.
*Supposedly I could earn a little income if you click on the Amazon link to Dragon NaturallySpeaking above, but please remember I would never promote something I would never use for myself. If you have other suggestions for similar types of software, please let me know! However, I am definitely loving my Dragon Naturally Speaking on my iPhone, and can't wait until I get my copy of Dragon for my computer!