Guide To Writing A Biography, Memoir or Family Story

2012-05-30 18:11

Any person can write a biography or memoir– can write the story of the life of a person living or already passed on. That person you are writing about does not have to be famous or politician etc. Great deeds are often done by quite calm people in quite calm communities. These are people who anchor communities more than politicians or celebrities we admire. You can write a family biography to share in the extended family and for the future making people in your family aware of their roots. In most instances a biography used by people as lessons in life and because of this a person considering writing about the life of another person should do so in very responsible and dutiful devoted manner.

Your first and foremost duty when writing a biography, or memoir or family story – the duty and responsibility that supersedes and comprehends all others - is reliability and justice. Reliability means the story you are writing about can be relied upon. The essence of reliability is truthfulness.  Justice is the act of being just and/or fair. Justice means as you write you will be tempted or dragged around by feelings and emotions to say things that might not be wholly true or wholly correct – so justice means that you will judge all issues and seek fairness in your writing, ensuring that you are not biased. Writing a biography or memoir your responsibility and duty is to reproduce the life of that person or family, making it vivid in your representation in such a way that is captivating without violating the truth. Your highest and only good or aim should be, like a witness, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and like a judge, to do full justice to every person and event which comes under review.

Writing a biography or memoir or family story is neither science or art but practical reality and awareness of the facts and the intensity or genuine desire to represent the life story in the notice of other people.  Writing with intensity implies a genuine natural flow just like a river that has its origin from its head and flowing freely without any struggle in its multifaceted meanders, tributaries and streams. Writing a biography need not be a struggle but should be something that will make you wake up in the middle of the night with vivid memories and grab that laptop/notebook to begin writing those precious moments of the person you are writing about. Writing a biography should be an enjoyable journey and is soothing and full of satisfaction.

Facts are there or can be obtained from various people, but there is a need for perspective and approach but putting aside all prejudice and any zeal, and proceed in the pure love of truth. Not that you must become a tabular rasa [Latin phrase meaning "clean slate" that is a mind free of misconceptions or previous notions]. No man or woman should attempt, to cast off the life influences which made us what we are individually. But writing biography you should in everything be as true as possible to the objective fact, "sine ira et studio"[Latin meaning "without anger and fondness" or "without hate and zealousness"] do justice to every person and event where you see all points in the circumference. Writing a biography does not involve that person only or that family, there are other people that will come into consideration as you proceed writing, these are friends, colleagues extended family and the community at large– your approach to all people should be positive and as I already said “without hate and zealousness”.

The composition or presentation of facts should not be arbitrarily made, and then pedantically applied. The biographer or memoir writer should keep the balance and seek perspective in composition.

Above all, and all things having been considered, being objective does not remove the fact that, in composing the facts and putting them into perspectives you should be in thorough sympathy and genuine human concern with the person or family you are writing about, and enthusiastically be devoted thereto. Just like no one can interpret a poet without poetic feeling and taste.


AB praises selfless skipper

2010-11-21 18:15

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