Writing someone’s biography or memoir is a true art form. It represents the creation of a person’s legacy and their contributions to the world, their family, themselves.
A biography is the melding of many stories into one coherent, colorful, and respectful arc that is similar to every special and memorable novel. Yes, a biography flows with conflict and jeopardy, with joy and happiness, with sadness and despair, with triumphs and victories, and with the inevitable failures and missteps.
Every single one of us has a story to tell, and our own personal stories are compelling for a multitude of reasons, but most important of because it is completely and utterly unique to each of us. No one can replicate your story, and that single fact makes it memorable.
We begin with events and situations, but within every event and every situation is the larger than life aspect of building relationships. Just like the great novels, biographies bring to life characters that have their own special place in the world: you and me; the man on the street; the celebrity; the teacher; the businessman; the stay-at-home mother. Each has a story worth telling, and what very often spells the difference between the well-told story and the average presentation is the man or woman taking pen to paper (or, of course, more likely in this day and age stroking the keys of a computer).
Like every well-told story, a biography or memoir is a series of bricks purposely placed and expertly laid; it takes more than great writing; it takes the beautiful creation of a relationship between subject and scribe. Without this wonderful relationship, there can be no depth to the story, no fabric to the movement of events, no understanding of the emotion that every event and encounter naturally has. The depth, the fabric, and emotion are what the reader wants and deserves. It is up to the biographer to produce it. It cannot be done without the creation of an intimate and binding relationship. And more than that, the building of trust.
Think of it. The biographer holds something special in his or her hands: the story of a life; the building of a legacy; the past and present living forever in the future.