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My problem in finding current biographies rather than autobiographies is that when you search Amazon for biographies both come up. The only way to tell is to read the excerpt and look for "I", so that is why I was looking for suggestions in well written biographies that are not historical ones.

As for your other questions, I feel her life before and after the event ties into the situation but I truly want to highlight the struggles she went though. I think there is a market for this story. TV shows have asked after the gag order is lifted to tell her story. I have full disclosure and collaboration from my friend. She actually asked me to write it.
So what I am looking for is some text books or guides in starting the writing process, and some samples of biographies of people who's lives have been changed by one event.
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My best friend went thought a life changing event that could change the laws in her state. The case is still on going so I have to be vague. But as this is going, she will change the law in her state on a very controversial topic. I want to write her story. IT is one that needs to be told. I will have access to the transcripts and other documented narratives. While I am waiting for the story to end, I would like to research how to write a biography from an outsider's view. I would love a list of biography's written by a second party to read, and books on how to write a biography.
Hello Jen:

I am not sure what you want to write about this event: a book? An article? A short story?

All "biographies" are written "from an outsider's view." An AUTObiography is written by the subject. Most biographies tell the story of the subject's entire life - is that what you want? Or do you want to highlight just this one event? In order to help you decide, I suggest that you ask yourself:

1. Is there, or will there be, enough material to make a whole book?

2. Would this be most effective written as an article? A poem? A stage play?

3. What is your premise? What is the "lesson" you want readers to take away from your writing? What is your point?

4. Do you intend to try to sell this material someday?

5. If you would like to publish, do you have permission from your friend? Will they perhaps collaborate (co-write) with you?

When you have made these decisions, come back if you need more help.  

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high score over 1,000 questions.

And good luck with your writing!  

Hello Jen:

Biographies of any type are bound to be historical. Perhaps the word "historical" is not quite what you wanted to say. Do you mean, perhaps, biographies of dead people? Everytime you write, I get a better idea what you are looking for!

Biographies often have the name of the subject in the title: "President Clinton: a man for all seasons." Sometimes they do not. Autobiographies seldom have the name of the subject in them.

I have read some biographies I thought were good and more I thought were boring - those writers were holding back the most interesting stuff. A biography about someone who hasn't much to hide (Norman Schwartzkopf's for instance), can't possibly be boring. Some biographies are well-written and some are not; this is a subjective thing. Some are interesting and funny, like Carol Burnett's. Carol's life was for sure changed by one event.

Writers for the TV shows who are asking for Friend's story are likely to have a contract in hand, or to know they can get one; probably from the show itself. They have ties to the publishing industry, and no doubt proven track records. If you don't, and if you don't have a wad of cash in hand to offer, they may convince friend that they should write it, rather than you. They will certainly try, so don't be surprised or hurt if this happens; it is just good common business sense. Also, there is the matter of rights; what kind of rights to the story are these people interested in?

As for "starting the writing process," I have an answer for that, too, but it requires another question. In
Section 808-818 at your public library you will find plenty of books on the "how tos" of writing. The problem here is that it takes years to learn to write salable material; by that time, your friend's event may be old news.

If you are determined to write it, and your friend is determined to have you, in spite of all this :) you need to make it legally binding. With this much at stake, I would get a lawyer to draw up a contract according to the laws of your state. Should your friend halfway through decide they want to turn it over to someone else, after all your work, you'll be protected.

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high score over 1,000 questions.

And good luck with your writing!  

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Susan Rand


I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.


I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

BA degree in Written Communication

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