Fourth-grade students should be writing every day, either in class or for a journal, and constantly practicing to improve their writing skills. They should also be learning to use books, magazines, the public library, and the Internet as research tools. Doing a short biography of a famous person is a good way to develop their literary skills. Writing a good biography entails doing research, making notes, creating and following an outline, and revising to make a biographical essay factually accurate and interesting. Following these steps should make the job fun and easy.
Collect information on your subject. This includes the basics, such as dates of birth and death (if deceased), birthplace, childhood home, schooling, career, and family. These can be found in a good encyclopedia, available in any library, or on the Internet.
Create a file for your notes and information. Write down the information in a simple format that helps you follow the basic information you collect. Try to organize the notes in chronological order, which your biography will also follow. Finish the notes file with information on the importance of the individual: what they accomplished, how they affected the world around them (for better or worse), and their importance to the modern world.
Write an outline of your biography. This is a series of short headings that follow a logical order and describe the basic subject of each section and paragraph. Make the outline a numbered list, like a list of chapters. Under each number, set up a few subheadings using letters of the alphabet: A, B, C, and so on. These will present more detailed information under the main headings.
Draft your biography by writing a simple version, following your outline. Write in simple and short sentences, with a single subject (such as schooling) contained in a single paragraph. Make new headings every few paragraphs. Don't worry about making it perfect, just write down everything you've learned and that you find interesting about the subject.
Revise your draft. Improve the sentences so that they flow smoothly from one to the next. Don't jump from one time or place to another in the same paragraph. Begin every paragraph with a topic sentence, which explains the basic point or information you will include in the paragraph to come.
Write your conclusion. This is the last paragraph of your biography, and the most important. In the conclusion, you make a general statement about the subject's importance to the world. What did your subject accomplish, and why is he or she still famous today? Your conclusion draws on everything you know about the subject, and helps the reader to understand your own view on the person you're writing about.
Things You Will Need
- Internet research sources
- Word-processing program or notebook
- Use active voice, and vary the length of your sentences.
- Keep your paragraphs to about three or four sentences. Paragraphs should contain related material (information about the subject's birthplace, for example).
- Have a friend read your biography, and offer you her opinion.
- After finishing your biography, turn to other work for a day or two, if you can, then come back to your writing. You should notice things you could improve.
- Don't write a biography without gathering research from at least three sources. Cross-check all the information to make sure it is correct.
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