Why are people going to read your biography?
Well, I’ll tell you. It is to hear your ‘voice’ and connect with you. Your voice is the fingerprint of your life story. They will read your biography to hear your voice come to life and connect with you. Your voice is the voice they may have known all their life, or perhaps is the voice they wanted to know but never had the chance. It’s like the voice of your favourite singer who is instantly recognizable to you soon as the song blares through the speakers. You may love the lyrics of the song or its musicality, but it is the voice of your favourite singer you will recognize and connect with before being lulled into the experience you so much enjoy.
My client’s biography instructions
Never was this brought home to me more than when I was working on a biography with an 81-year-old client who insisted repeatedly on her English-second-language narrative being reproduced exactly as she told it. ‘How will they know it is me if you change it to proper grammar’ she said. At times, I did find it hard as a copywriter to resist turning the manuscript into textbook prose beautifully crafted and balanced; but resist I did for fear of my life.
So, what is your voice in your biography?
Your voice is what your readers will hear when they read your words. It will be reflective of your attitude, your experiences, your personality and is a quality that is distinctive and true. As your speaking voice changes depending on your mood, so does your writing voice. If you are too worried about your writing, your voice may become stiff and sound controlled; if you are hiding truth it may become evasive and disconnected; if you are angry your text may sound blaming and distorted, losing its authenticity. This authentic voice is the voice you use when you feel relaxed, safe and accepted[i]. It is best for your reader if you try and maintain your authentic voice throughout even when dealing with emotional or disturbing issues.
Some well-practised hints on finding your voice in your biography.
- Imagine you are speaking to a trusted friend that you don’t need to impress.
- Use the ‘I’ or ‘we’ perspective (first person).
- Use the active voice.
- Don’t try too hard to get it right the first time. Rewriting and reviewing happen for a reason – it’s the writing process. Just get started and allow your work to grow.
- When dealing with emotional or disturbing issues, let them all hang out in your first draft. First drafts are for you and your computer only. Keep rewriting or reviewing until the emotion leaves your voice and the facts remain.
- Don’t try and manipulate your reader into feeling sorry for you or angry for you.
- Tell your facts and allow your reader to own their own feelings.
- Leave your written words for a week or more, then read them to a friend or tape them and play them back to yourself.
- Lately, I have been using the tools of WORD and letting the computer read it back to me or dictating it to WORD then playing it back. Amazing what your inner self thinks of your own writing.
When does your voice start in your biography?
So, when do you start with your own voice in your text? Start from the opening sentence and you will find it much easier to proceed and your reader will find it difficult not to refuse to continue reading. Short and snappy is always catchy – ‘This is the truth of my life’, ‘this is what happened’, ‘it was 1945’. Google opening sentences and you will be absorbed into their genius and complexity. I like to keep it simple and engaging.
Contact us to either write your biography with you or get your biography into print. We will preserve your voice so your readers will know who you are.
Rose mobile: 0407 487 495
How to start my life story. a few points http://writemyjourney.com/blog/page/3/
Writing and Editing http://www.thewritingshed.com.au/copyediting/
[i] Miller, P. 2001. Writing your Life. A Journey of Discovery. Allen and Unwin. Sydney.