How to Write an Impressive Biographical Sketch
The biographical sketch gives a brief overview of a person's life and major accomplishments. You can write a biographical sketch about anyone -- a historical figure, a classmate or yourself. The sketch should be narrowly focused on an important aspect of a person's life and should include facts and anecdotes that contribute to the telling of that element of the person's story.
Do Thorough Research
Begin by researching the person who is the focus of your biographical sketch to find basic information the individual's life. Facts to consider including in the sketch are age or date of birth, special interests, education and any awards or honors the person has received. If possible, conduct an interview to find information about the person's personality. Once your research is complete, decide which facts are most impressive. Avoid including every piece of information you find. For example, if you were to write a biographical sketch of author Louisa May Alcott, you could include the name of her most famous novel, "Little Women," and the fact that her family was friends with many famous authors. Choose facts that contribute to the story of how she became the author of "Little Women."
Create a Narrative
Another way to ensure that your biographical sketch is impressive is to write it in the format of a narrative. Instead of listing all of the facts you find in your research, try to find an interesting story to tell about the person you are featuring. Include facts and accomplishments in the narrative, or story, you tell. This approach will reveal your subject's personality. For example, in the sketch of Alcott, you could tell the story of how she was involved in the women's voting rights movement and how her belief in women's rights led to strong female characters in her writing.
Develop a Hook
In the opening of your biographical sketch, instead of simply introducing the person by name, start by giving context to the person's life. For example, you could mention something interesting that happened in the year your subject was born. Then, introduce your subject and begin to tell her story. Throughout the biographical sketch, include important facts within the context of the story. In the example of Alcott, the hook of your sketch could be the fact that her family was poor because of her father's idealistic work. This hook would also contribute to explaining how Alcott was inspired to write "Little Women" with a poor family as its focus.
Use Concise Writing
Once you complete a draft of your biographical sketch, proofread it to ensure that you do not have any grammatical or spelling errors. Then, make sure that you have told the person's story in the most concise way possible. Double check to see that you have included the most important facts about the person's life. For example, if the focus of your sketch on Alcott is that her life led to her writing "Little Women," you will want to make sure that all elements of biography contribute to that point. While it is interesting to note that Alcott wrote under various pseudonyms and published works called "Flower Fables" and "Hospital Sketches," these facts may not contribute to a brief sketch of her life focused on her most famous novel.
Based in Los Angeles, Jana Sosnowski holds Master of Science in educational psychology and instructional technology, She has spent the past 11 years in education, primarily in the secondary classroom teaching English and journalism. Sosnowski has also worked as a curriculum writer for a math remediation program. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from the University of Southern California.