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How to Write an Introduction to a Biography


Many nonfiction books begin with an introduction where the author writes about her motivation for addressing the topic of the book. Introductions can be humorous, intellectual, brief or thought-provoking. Whatever type of introduction you want to write, make sure you give it the same amount of attention as you did any other chapter. Biographies are one type of book that benefit greatly from a well-written introduction. Learning how to write an introduction to a biography is easy, although making it effective takes practice and perhaps many revisions.

Read the introductions of several of your favorite biographies, making notes about what subjects the author covers. What style of introduction do you relate to? What information do you feel is important to address? Every author will answer these questions differently.

Brainstorm all the topics that you want to include when you write the introduction. Think about why you are writing this particular biography and what impact the subject has had on your life or the lives of others.

Write a first draft of your introduction, avoiding editing. Just let the words flow. By censoring and second-guessing yourself at this stage, you may be causing a problem that many people refer to as writer's block.

Read over your introduction, noting areas that you want to revise. Correct spelling and grammatical mistakes.

Ask a trusted friend or fellow writer to serve as a helpful critic, or beta reader, on one of your early drafts. The job of a beta reader is to read a draft and offer constructive criticism. A fresh pair of eyes can often catch mistakes that you may have missed or make helpful recommendations.

Continue the editing and revision process until you feel confident with your end product.

Tip
  • Use anecdotes to make your introduction interesting and to capture the attention of the audience.
About the Author

Kimberly A. Smith has been a freelance writer for two years. She graduated from the University of California at Davis and the California Culinary Academy, then pursued a career baking wedding cakes. During her time at CCA, she received certification in nutrition and food safety. She currently attends the University of Oregon School of Law.