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Writing Lesson Plans: How to Write a Biography

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 3/12/2012

Teach students how to write a biography of a favorite historical figure or fictional character with this lesson plan.

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    Assignment Ideas

    Use biography writing assignments in conjunction with current events, a literature unit, a research paper, or a history project. Use the following ideas to get you started:

    1. Short Story Unit: Write a magazine article describing a meeting with a character from any story you've read this semester. Be sure your article portrays the character consistently with the character in the story. Create a name for the magazine and a title for the article. The audience should be the type of person who would read the magazine you created.
    2. Novel Unit: Do the above assignment. Choose a character from the novel to write the article on.
    3. History Class: Write a magazine article chronicling an encounter with any famous historical figure. Identify whether or not the person became famous before or after the meeting. Create a name for the magazine and a title for the article. The audience should be the type of person who would read the magazine you created.
    4. Research Paper: Write a biography on a famous writer. Research biographical information and his or her works.
    5. Current Events: Follow the same steps as the short story unit biography. Instead of a literary character, make a person in the news the subject of your article.
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    How to Procedures

    The following procedures involve writing about a fictional character. Simply change a few words to adapt it to any of the above assignments.

    1. Prewriting - Review short stories. Brainstorm characters who attracted your attention. Choose the one you feel would make the most interesting biography.
    2. Prewriting - Visualize the character. Much of what you write will come from the author's description. You can, however, fill in missing information.
    3. Prewriting - List character traits. Remember traits aren't always directly shown by the author. You may have to make inferences.
    4. Prewriting - Set up a believable situation in which you meet the character.
    5. Drafting - Explain the circumstances of your meeting, how you met the person, and what you talked about.
    6. Drafting - Keep the character consistent.
    7. Revising - Add details to make the encounter and the character more realistic. Make sure you focus on your audience as you revise.
    8. Revising - Use peer evaluation. Exchange papers with a partner and comment on the article's strengths and weaknesses.